Room 237 (2012)
Review by Jude Felton
When it comes to film adaptations of Stephen King stories I personally tend to keep them separated. It doesn’t matter how good the film is, it is incredibly difficult to translate King’s style to film. That’s not to say that there have been some wonderful movies of his works, because there have been many in my opinion. So, I tend to judge the film on its own merits, and not as an adaptation.
One film that does cause mumbles and grumbles is Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film version of The Shining. It doesn’t follow the book religiously and there are elements that aren’t in the book. However, such has been the impact of this film that in my eyes I often forget that it is an adaptation; it’s a Kubrick film, and it is a masterpiece. It’s a film where the characters absorb the actors, and not the other way around. I don’t see Jack Nicholson on screen, which is quite fortunate, instead I see Jack Torrance. The Shining is a film that has consumed its source material and become its own entity.
What, I imagine, would probably not have crossed Kubrick’s mind, after making the film, is the amount of theories that would arise about hidden messages in the film, or in simpler terms; what the film is actually about. Why, it’s about a family holed up in a remote hotel during the winter, and Daddy goes batshit, isn’t it? Not to all it isn’t, and Room 237 examines a few theories from folk who have studied the film over the last 30 years or so.
I won’t go into the theories in too much depth, as that will take away from some of the amusing and eye-opening opinions contained within. However, The Shining is seen as a story about the faking of the moon landing, a tale about the Holocaust, the intertwining of the maze in the grounds and the hotel itself being a maze, and strangely enough a weird penis shot. You’ll know what I mean when you see it.
Now, whether or not you read too much into any of these theories is really down to the individual. However, all are quite fascinating and all come from folk that have studied the film for many years. In my opinion some are ridiculous, but then some are eerily spot-on and did make me think. Subtle things that you won’t have noticed before will now become glaringly obvious; such as one of Danny’s bike rides around the hotel. How did he get to the upper level? Also, someone took the time to simultaneously play the film forwards and backwards at the same time, with the results being incredibly creepy.
You can read as much as you want into Room 237, and the theories contained, but what I will say is that it is a terrifically entertaining movie. I loved every second of it and probably won’t watch The Shining in the same light again.
As a documentary it is very well made, with the stories seamlessly blending into one another, an absolutely stunning score (which echoes the stunning soundtrack from the Phantasm flicks) and someone’s, in all likelihood director Rodney Ascher’s, decision to use clips from Lamberto Bava’s Demons was a stroke of genius.
Conspiracy theories are everywhere, and everyone has a theory on them, and such is the case with Room 237. You can take this film as seriously as you like, or indeed just laugh it off as entertainment and the thoughts of a few nutjobs, but there is no denying that some of the points made are glaringly obvious (after watching Room 237), and you will find yourself wanting to watch The Shining again. And again.
Personally I thought this was a superb mind-bending slice of entertainment, and I had a blast watching it. Kubrick was a genius filmmaker and it would not surprise me in the slightest if he did indeed hide hidden messages in his film. Or then again, maybe he just made a cracking horror film? Watch Room 237 and make your own mind up. To my eyes, this was pure cinema gold.
Room 237 is playing select theaters and is available on VOD and Digital Download now.