If you’ve ever seen Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, you probably thought you’d seen a pretty good (but kind of overrated) horror movie about a dude going nuts, a son who can read minds and a wife who tries to keep this crazy family together. If you’ve never seen Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, you probably just know it for the iconic sight of Jack Nicholson cutting his way through a door with an axe before delivering his demonic take on “Here’s Johnny”. Whatever you think this movie is about, all I have to say is, you’re wrong dummy, stop being so dumb you big dumbo. Because Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is obviously about the genocide of the native American Indians, faking the moon landing and Nazis. So many Nazis.
For Room 237, director Rodney Ascher assembles a group of obsessives who have their own interesting takes on what The Shining really means. It’s an impressive effort from Ascher, because it couldn’t have been easy finding time for them to record their thoughts on the movie in between long, sustained bouts of picking peanuts out of their own crap. To reiterate, these guys are pretty nuts.
Through voiceover, five nut bags are given the chance to tell their story and give their interpretations of The Shining. We never see them, only hear their voices. Maybe their respective mental institutions allowed tape recorders but not video cameras. As they draw their dangerously long bows in making connections between their wack job theories and The Shining, Room 237 meticulously shows the portions of the film they’re referring to. Even with zoom ins, slow motion replays and sometimes even frame by frame presentations of their “proof”, every one of those theories comes across as more unlikely than the last.
None of that is to say however, that Room 237 isn’t fascinating. Watching a few seconds of The Shining broken down and analysed in the most intricate detail, to show you all the (possible) references to the Holocaust is amazingly compelling. Somehow, something as simple as showing that a chair that’s visible in the background of one shot is missing when the camera cuts back to the same shot seconds later, is really interesting when backed up by the ramblings of a mad man.
And while I love a playful romp about genocide and the Holocaust as much as the next guy, these theories are pretty tame next to the assertion that The Shining is actually Kubrick’s admission that he helped fake the moon landing. The best proof of which is that in one shot of The Shining, we see a key ring that says “ROOM No 273”. If you rearrange those letters and ignore a couple, it says “moon”. Wow, I just got goose bumps typing that.
Whether you love The Shining, think it’s just an OK horror and that everyone should just settle down, or have never even seen it, Room 237 is really entertaining. The crazier the wing birds and their theories get, the more entertaining it is to listen to them clutching at straws to their barely there connections. I can’t wait for Ascher’s follow up, when some wackadoos pull apart City Slickers 2: The Search for Curley’s Gold, to prove how it’s all a prescient allegory for the Global Financial Crisis and 9/11.