EW Movie Review: "Room 237"
What's in "Room 237?" Obsessive fans of "The Shining" know, and in the new documentary "Room 237" they explain the hidden meanings in director Stanley Kubrick's classic horror film. Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman followed the following report for NY1.
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I’m a card-carrying member of the cult of Stanley Kubrick, but I’ve never found "The Shining" to be a very scary movie. Fascinating, yes, but not scary. Where I think my experience mirrors that of a lot of other people is that the more, over the years, that I watched "The Shining", the more it worked as something else -- as a puzzle, a pop-up maze of projected psychosis you could get lost in.
Room 237 is a documentary that consists entirely of super-fans of "The Shining" talking about the movie’s secret themes and hidden clues, a veritable Kubrickian Da Vinci Code of underlying networks of meaning. The movie, which is playing for one week at the IFC Center, is an amazing experience, because it lures you into seeing The Shining as a kind of studio-made Zapruder film.
Some of what the film geeks in Room 237 have to say is nutty, and some of it might be described as advanced paranoia, like the tendency to assign deep meaning to continuity errors. But a lot of Room 237 consists of incredibly passionate and audacious film criticism. It’s criticism infused with the power of conspiracy theory.
Room 237 has been put together with great cunning and love of cinema by its director and editor, Rodney Ascher. We hear the fan theorists on the soundtrack, but we never see them,which only adds to their aura of Internet-geek-holed-up-with-an-old-VHS-player-in-the-basement obsessiveness. Kubrick, in the late ‘70s, became deeply interested in how television commercials used subliminal imagery, and there’s no question that he filled The Shining with it.
So watch Room 237 and delight in the fact that The Shining is really about genocide, World War II, the moon landing and the minotaur at the center of the maze. Or that the movie works as well backward as it does forward.
Room 237 makes perfect sense of The Shining because, even more than The Shining itself, it places you right inside the logic of how an insane person thinks.