The amount of effort some fans are willing to put forth into examining every facet of their obsessions is genuinely baffling.
Room 237 sums up the work of several such enthusiasts and Kubrick aficionados, who each put forth a case for The Shining being more than just a film; it is a statement, a metaphor, an allegory and it is wrapped around a giant conspiracy theory (or so this film would have you believe).
Kubrick is the perfect filmmaker to obsess about, given that he was a certified genius with an IQ of 200 and an artistic eye that no-one before or since has even come close to. It is also widely documented that Kubrick was the most meticulous person who ever lived. There was nothing accidental about any frame in any film; everything has a reason or serves a purpose.
It is with this knowledge in hand that the interviewees in Room 237 present their cases. Some are quite basic in their composition (comparing the elements of the hedge maze and Jack Nicholson’s character to create a retelling of the Minotaur from Greek mythology). But others suggest that a lot more was afoot than a story being told. One theory suggests that the whole film serves as an outlet for Kubrick to tell the world that he was behind the faking of the Apollo 11 moon landings!!! And the worrying fact is that there is a good deal of evidence to back this concept up!
One wild theory after another is presented during the 100 minute running time and some hit the mark a lot more than others. But as the film goes on you soon realise that the scary thing about it all is the level of obsession these people have. I both admire and fear people that get so involved in a single piece of art that they create whole worlds for themselves around it.
It’s also overall a little dull as a documentary. The separate sections are overlong and given that some of them are so obviously nonsensical it makes for drawn out chapters that are more tiresome than intriguing.
There’s also the problem of the sound mix, which is frankly terrible. On many occasions I found myself having to rewind the film to hear what had been said, due to the narrators being muffled or the background volume being too loud.
If you’re a huge Kubrick fan (as I am) then you will find lots of interesting things about Room 237. But it’s nothing life changing, or opinion altering in the way that the best documentary films often are; just a fun look into the mysterious world of a great director, and a worrying examination of the human psyche.