The documentary Room 237 is an examination of the numerous theories that surround Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 horror masterpiece The Shining. The new film interviews five fans to present nine segments wherein the different theories or interpretations are explained. You never see the interviewees. Their dialogue is illustrated with clips from various films, mostly those of Kubrick. I’d only recommend it to real fans of the original film, or of Kubrick. Some of the theories proposed in Room 237 are interesting: the themes of genocide of Native Americans or in The Holocaust. Other theories seem more the product of obsessed viewers poring over their new blu-rays and using the reputation of a meticulous filmmaker to justify any conclusion with, ‘anything Kubrick put in the film is there for a reason!’
Ever wonder why Danny Torrance was wearing an Apollo 11 sweater? One segment, drawing from conspiracy theorists that believe that astronauts never went to the moon, suggests that Kubrick was hired by NASA to film the moon landing footage and that The Shining is not an adaptation of a Stephen King novel, but a veiled confession of Kubrick’s deeds. That was tough to swallow, but I was intrigued by the fact that Jack Torrance is clearly reading an issue of Playgirl magazine while he sits waiting to meet with the Overlook manager on the day the hotel shuts down. It’s tough to imagine that that was merely (as one writer suggested) a joke by Jack Nicholson that managed to stay until the final cut. A simple Google search led to a frightening number of online essays and examinations of The Shining and the Playgirl, and plenty of other bizarre topics.
I think Room 237 stands better as an examination of the levels of obsession that certain films can elicit.