The words Room 237 won’t create much spark in most cinemagoers unless they are die-hard Stanley Kubrick fans; or more specifically die-hard fans of his fantastical and horrifying film, The Shining. I guess I could be included in that category as the mere mention of that room number sends a chill over me. For me, The Shining is an iconic piece of horror, a true milestone within the genre that I would suggest some of today’s horror director’s take note from. So when I learnt Room 237 documentary about The Shining I had bittersweet feelings. 

As someone who reviews films I guess you could say I love to discuss the ins and outs of a film yet, when it’s a film I have loved and enjoyed I feel that some things are better left unsaid- particularly when it comes to a Kubrick classic. However, instead of lots of opinionated talking heads, director Rodney Ascher pieced together dialogue, footage from various Kubrick films including The Shining, maps, drawings and other pieces of cinema. All of these factors attempt to piece together the bizarre range of conspiracy theories surrounding The Shining. 

Room 237 is 2012 American documentary film directed by Rodney Ascher about perceived hidden meanings in Stanley Kubrick’s film The Shining.  

The fun of this truly strange film is in listening to the various faceless voices enthusiastically explaining their theories, unwaveringly confident in their validity while keen in several cases to dismiss even the words of the film’s director to the contrary. They are so convinced that even some feel that The Shining has become to take over their lives…Weird huh? I guess some of the theories are believable but I was unsure if this was just the psycho and paranoid nature of the footage taking over me. 

 Some of the craziest allegations include: the belief that The Shining contains allusions to America’s genocide of Native American Indians, that Jack Torrance’s typewriter helps position the film as an allegory of the Holocaust, and perhaps most hilariously, that the film was Kubrick’s sub-textual means of informing us that he helped fake the Apollo moon landings. Check out Danny’s knitted jumper when he stands up and goes to enter Room 237… 

I must admit these weren’t quite the conspiracies and theories I was hoping for. The film is spectacularly scary I didn’t want it tainted by the idea that it was in fact about the Moon landings- the film is perfectly fantastical and inexplicable which is perhaps where the fear is derived from. It doesn’t quite make sense, its weird- and that’s why, I think anyway, most people like it- we’re often scared of what we cannot explain. Although I was a little spooked by how obsessed these voiceless speakers had become- analysing the same scenes over, and over and over… 

Perhaps a film for fanatics or reviewers, everyone else may get bored at what seems to be Kubrick’s lack of continuity and poor interpretation of a novel. It’s a film for fans, the obsessive ones that love a crazy theory or ten. 

Or maybe the real purpose of the film is to send the viewer mad a la Torrance?

 

About The Author

Emily Stockham

Emily is from South London and has a degree in English Literature. Emily is a marketing assistant who writes about films and music in her spare time. Horror and grindhouse are her thing - although she will happily watch anything if it means a trip to the cinema.

  • “The Shining” The Overlook Hotel. Almost entirely filmed in bad “Room 237.” The Apollo Moon Landing, cut. A white man killing an Indian, cut. A Holocaust “shower,” cut. What team “237” did not decipher. Scene: Lobby. The African American Chef symbolically lynched via a fire axe. Kubrick 666: A Symbolic Odyssey.