Stanley Kubrick has always been a fascinating figure for people who are obsessed with film (like me). He was known for his strange plots, his meticulous compositions, his abuse of actors, his reclusiveness and his intellectual meanings behind his stories. When Stanley Kubrick decided to make a horror film based upon a very popular and mainstream book, most film critics and snooty movie going people were shocked. How could someone who was considered a genius in this world stoop so low? What came out of this production was an amazing film that has this feeling that something else is going on beneath the surface of the story. But what exactly is it? Rodney Ascher decides to take several people’s theories about the Shining and illustrate why they think the way they do. The result is Room 237.
The theories that Mr. Ascher presents here are conspiracy theories. We will never know exactly what, if any, of these theories are based on the intentions of the director. This is because Stanley Kubrick hardly ever granted interviews and never explained any of his films. So it is really up to the viewer to come up with ideas of their own. And boy do these viewers come up with some wild theories. One theory involves a confession by Stanley Kubrick for faking the moon landing, another is that he is illustrating a lifetime of genocide of the American Indians and another is about minotaurs or something. These theories are crazy but they can be very convincing. These people have studied frame after frame of the film and point out the smallest details to support their theories. I don’t know if I will ever have as much passion for a film as these people do. But the wild thing is that most of the theorists are not film buffs. It is just that this film has touched them so much that they have to figure it out any way they can.
Mr. Ascher makes one of the most effective documentaries for several reasons. One reason is that you never see the interviewees faces. As an audience member, you are not tainted with if the American Indian genocide man was really an American Indian or not. He also takes meticulous care in explaining each interviewees point through the images on-screen. He not only uses images from the The Shining, but he also uses images from all of Stanley Kubrick’s films along with other stock footage. He also underlies this eerie score underneath every phrase uttered and image seen. This score is creepy not only because it is set to horror movie images, but because these people are discussing events outside the context of the film that are sinister. Mr. Ascher hints at the issues of the film and gives us more to ponder as we walk away from the film. This is what I think all documentaries should do and what they always seem to fail to do.