Room 237 - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Room 237 Reviews

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Super Reviewer
October 22, 2013
Several people with ideas and theories as to what Kubrick might have really meant when he made The Shining. Pretty good coffee table conversation, but the film, like the several theories presented, lacks cohesion. No one idea makes a lasting impact, a hodgepodge of snippets of thought, the central theme (if any) being that Kubrick was one bright s.o.b., so he had to've hidden secret meanings into his work. He must've. Right? Right? "Waiter, more coffee over here please."
Super Reviewer
½ October 20, 2014
This pathetic and very silly mishmash of theories may be amusing for a while, especially for the most passionate cinephiles and fans of Kubrick's film, but there is no denying that they are mostly laughable rubbish, sloppily put together and never coming to a whole.
Super Reviewer
February 16, 2014
"Some Movies Stay With You Forever... And Ever... And Ever"

From purely a subject matter point of view, Room 237 is heaven for me. I, like the interviewees, always find myself going back and looking at all the little details of The Shining. Every time I re-watch it, I end up surfing the Internet on different theories, so seeing that a documentary was actually made on this subject really sucked me in.

While I enjoyed Room 237 based on my personal love for The Shining and all of Stanley Kubrick's complicated works, it could have been better. I didn't really care for the style of it. We didn't get to see any of the interviewees, as their voices were just voiceovers of endless scenes of movies. A lot of the scenes were obviously from The Shining, but there were other Kubrick movies, as well as just other movies shown for the whole runtime. I didn't really care for that aspect of it at all.

Overall, this is an okay movie, but you have to be really interested in the movie to get anything out of it. A lot of the theories seem kind of crazy and a lot of the details they get into don't seem all that important, but as a starting point for making your own opinions about what all the below the surface details of the Shining mean, this is a cool little film.
Super Reviewer
½ April 16, 2013
Wonderful and dreadfully, dreadfully misunderstood. Funnily enough, that's what it sets out to solve.
Super Reviewer
October 14, 2013
It's obvious why the critics liked this film: it speaks about theories and criticism concerning a classic film. It's rooted in the simple assumption that a film can be interpreted by many factions with their own theories and biases against a film, and their opinions are valid, and even put above conventional opinions of certain films. The film that is discussed in this documentary is "The Shining" based on the book by Stephen King, and directed by Stanley Kubrick. Kubrick was eccentric, multi-talented, and now is remembered as one of the most inventive directors of all time. A film as multi-layered as "The Shining" was bound to create a fan base that was diverse and divided. "Room 237" is put together interestedly, and yet is a film that lacks any credibility. Director Rodney Ascher found a vast group of people, who are never shown onscreen, and are never truly identified except for in the first several minutes of the film. We as the audience don't know if these people are critics, professors, or just people who have opinions. There is constant voice-over narration over different scenes in the film where these people explain their theories based mostly on visual clues and their own inert intuition. Many of the theories have a strong basis for their hypothesis, but many others sound like gibberish made up by disillusioned people in the height of hysteria. At one point Juli Kearns goes on and on about how bright the sunlight streaming through a window is, going on like it was a clear and suggestive sign. Another narrator takes a single frame and suggests the juxtaposition behind a man's crotch and a paper tray is metaphorical of a phallus. These strange and oblique suggestions of Kubrick's inventive and complex canon feels more like a conspiracy YouTube video than it does a documentary. Besides the voice-overs being crackpots, they're longwinded and often are giving their recordings from their homes (obvious from one person's son crying in the background). It's simply very amateurish, and for a film about Kubrick there better be some authenticity and care attributed to who you choose to represent your theorists, by not plucking people off the street.
Super Reviewer
½ September 26, 2013
A mesmerizing, geeked-out documentary on one of the best movies ever, Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining", and the many different interpretations by film nerds everywhere. Whether it is exploring one person's view on how the movie is about how Kubrick faked the Apollo landing, how the film is really about the slaughter of Native Americans, or how it is about obsessing over the past, the film remains utterly arresting. Sure, some of the interpretations are utterly ridiculous and over-the-top, but even when they are, the cases they make are still entertaining nonetheless. If you have a love for "The Shining", or just Kubrick in general (he's my favorite director of all-time), you will really dig this movie.
Super Reviewer
March 25, 2013
Gripping where it has no right to be, "Room 237" works as a fascinating psychological exercise in how people fill in the blanks of what they can't understand, and illustrates the power movies can have on the mind.
Super Reviewer
April 14, 2013
Some of the theories are far-fetched, and the documentary does lag. Despite these flaws, and its under-produced, amateurish feel, Room 237 does its job. It intrigues and it reminded me of why I loved The Shining in the first place.
Super Reviewer
April 2, 2013
'Room 237'. A testament to Kubrick's reputation, the power of synchronicity, and what we project of ourselves onto the screen.
Super Reviewer
½ December 12, 2012
What these analysts give Kubrick credit for is absolutely hysterical.
Super Reviewer
½ December 8, 2012
Five obsessed fans explain their intricate theories about the horror classic THE SHINING, from the nearly plausible (it's an allegory for the Holocaust) to the totally batty (it's Stanley Kubrick's guilt-ridden confession that he helped fake the moon landing). A must for fans of the movie, who will be introduced to many curious details that they never noticed before---including a lot of things that aren't actually there.
Super Reviewer
½ March 22, 2014
Stanley Kubrick fans be crazy; Exhibit A, Room 237. This documentary looks at several unconventional theories about the hidden meanings in Stanley Kubrick's classic horror film The Shining. The theories include messages about the genocide of the American Indians, the Holocaust of Nazi Germany, and the Moon Landing Hoax (and these are the tamer of the theories presented). But however absurd the ideas are, the film does a good job at backing them up with footage from The Shining. Yet, a lot of the so called evidence can be explained away as continuity errors and coincidence. Still, Room 237 is well-crafted and its zany theories are a bit of fun (if not taken too seriously).
Super Reviewer
June 12, 2015
Starting with "Dr. Strangelove," Stanley Kubrick took a much more detailed approach to filmmaking which also added to the time it took for him to make a film. A special challenge was with "Barry Lyndon" in not only recreating the 18th century in realistic fashion but in also getting a dramatic performance out of Ryan O'Neal.

With his next movie "The Shining," those same background details would end up tripping up any number of over-attentive viewers. This phenomenon is explored in the documentary "Room 237" which also serves as a cautionary tale about seeing a movie at least 50 times.

Whereas the viewers interviewed provide occasionally valid insights, especially along the lines of the Overlook Hotel actually being alive, there are other theories that are to be polite just out there.

Take for instance the one who saw "The Shining" as proof that Kubrick faked the moon landing, mostly in a random sweater and cans of Tang. Actually, he kind of hedges his bets when he says that we probably did reach the moon but that is not the real footage. In any case, I did not watch the bonus footage of "Room 237" on the DVD, so alas I don't know if he ever got audited by the IRS.

And then there is numerology which is shaky at the best of times, which in this case involves the number 42.(2 X 3 X 7 = 42) Admittedly, that is also the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything in 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' which was first produced two years before "The Shining" was released. Or maybe Kubrick was just a huge Jackie Robinson fan.
El Z.
Super Reviewer
May 11, 2013
If you are big fan of The Shining, you will love this movie. They will reveal some interesting "facts" about the movie. You really need to have seen The Shining many times to enjoy Room 237. Dig it!
Super Reviewer
April 28, 2013
As far as cracked-out conspiracy docs go, this is the CITIZEN KANE of them. I see your House Of Numbers and raise you two Zapruder films. ROOM 237 is ostensibly about a collection of "experts" who read into what they believe to be hidden symbolism in the 1980 Stanley Kubrick film, THE SHINING. Presented as disembodied voices, a cinematic representation of anonymous internet trolls who plague the comments sections, there are allusions to everything from the plight of Native Americans to victims of the Holocaust, numerology taken to the extremes, and the most insane backwords/forwards analysis since THE BEATLES were rumored to have planted "I buried Paul" within the song, STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER.

As the riduculata start to pile up, the film takes on a different meaning. It's not about THE SHINING at all, but about the people with WAY too much time on their hands. I was brought back to my days at UCLA Film School. Friends would always tell me that it would ruin me as an audience member because I would, from that point forward, notice things the casual viewer wouldn't, thus deadening the entertainment value of any film. Instead, I would roll my eyes in certain classes, because I somehow knew that not every filmmaker would intentionally play with iconography, and that the "red wall" in a scene had nothing to do with blood and had everything to do with the fact that it was the only color the Production Designer could find on that particular day. Movies are often a series of happy accidents.

Of course, Stanley Kubrick was a notorious perfectionist who would ask for hundreds of takes from a performer, He was known to pore over every details, so who knows? Maybe these nutjobs are onto something. It really doesn't matter, since nobody from the Kubrick estate is endorsing ROOM 237. Better to just listen to the insane musings presented here and delight in their awkward"I know this sounds crazy" laughter.
Super Reviewer
December 24, 2015
Enigmatic. Brilliant. Genius. Groundbreaking. These are all words that describe Stanley Kubrick, the filmmaker whose work is analyzed in Room 237, a documentary that features many different voices whose take on Kubrick's vaunted The Shinning defies mainstream analysis, to say the least. These are not words that describe this documentary, however, as it proves to be at first alluring, but later frustrating and inaccessible.

That Kubrick's work spawns so many theories is a testament to the greatness of the man and his work. To be sure, there are some fascinating aspects to his career, and the symbolism of many of his films seems to be undeniable. Some of the theories regarding what Stanley was trying to convey are quite compelling, and I was hoping for a thoughtful exploration of these theories.

What Room 237 does, however, is really present more of a mash up of theories. We never see the interviewee's faces; we are simply given their narration against film rolls of Kubrick's different films. There are too many voices and too little delineation between them. Trains of thought wonder and never seem to be honed in. There's interesting things said, but little exploration of it. Points are never contrasted, and instead the viewer is left to try and sort this all out themselves.

Dull analysis is mixed in with rather fascinating analysis, such as Kubrick's alleged collaboration in regards to the moon landing. Instead of capitalizing on this and providing opposing viewpoints, and perhaps challenging some of the points presented, the film simply goes on to the next talking-head, with no real sense of direction. This leads to a frustrating and inaccessible experience, we want to learn, but instead become bored and disinterested.

Simply put, it's a documentary without a rudder.

2/5 Stars
Super Reviewer
December 3, 2013
Any documentary which can inform me, persuade me and at the same time entertain me will always get my high rating... and this one is first ever for me! Directed by Rodney Ascher about perceived meanings in Stanley Kubrick's film The Shining, the film includes footage from The Shining, and other Kubrick films, along with discussions by a number of Kubrick enthusiasts. The film has nine segments, each segment focusing on different elements within the film which "may reveal hidden clues and hint at a bigger thematic oeuvre." It was a real treat of intelligent clues and amazing details.

The film was screened in the Directors' Fortnight section at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival and the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, and I could imagine how much critics enjoyed it. One of the most intelligent men on the planet, a man passionate about his work, showed us a great sense of humour in some of the hidden clues and messages in The Shining, and brilliance in the rest. This documentary positions The Shining as a comparably coiled, thematically overflowing microcosm-standing in for cinema, for history, for obsession, for postmodern theory buckling under the film's heft... and much, much more.

Even if the theories are not true, it is an enjoyable piece of art.
Super Reviewer
May 10, 2013
Ascher's documentary is a fascinating take on three very different interpretations of Stanley Kubrick's The Shining and the passion that they bring to their causes. It could be about any of them..or nothing but it is amusing to see what different people will see in any particular film. Great fun.
Super Reviewer
½ March 17, 2013
An unusual study of The Shining through the explanation of various fan theories, Room 237 is very interesting and engaging, although it's probably not going to make you rethink what The Shining was about. The fan theories about the meaning of the movie range from straight-forward, such as the idea that there are allusions to Native American genocide, to completely ridiculous, like that it's about Stanley Kubrick having staged the Apollo 11 moon landing. Most of the analyses of the movie fall under the category of ridiculous, or at least poorly-supported, so there isn't much to be taken away from the movie in terms of interpretation of The Shining, but the preposterous ideas are what make it so fun. Despite their crazy interpretations of The Shining, all of the interviewed individuals show a respectable amount of passion for the movie and its open-ended nature, and the amount of thought they put into explaining it deserves credit in and of itself. It's not a revelatory experience of any kind, but Room 237 is an eccentric, affectionate analysis of The Shining that is enjoyable regardless of whether or not you believe in the theories presented.
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