Documentaries are a strange genre of filmmaking because you can take pretty much anything and create a film if you can figure out an interesting way to piece it together whether you have a real story or not. What’s interesting is when a filmmaker takes something that doesn’t have a lot of content and creates something strange and unique as is the case with Room 237.
Room 237 focuses on the horror classic The Shining, but not the making of the film but instead all of the theories about the hidden meanings supposedly throughout the film through voiceovers of five very different people’s points of view. This is a strange film on numerous levels from the idea to the execution and most notably to the way it is crafted overall. Clearly the filmmaker wanted to create a very raw film and create the feel of just listening to a conversation as opposed to a streamlined professional documentary. It sounds as though most of these voice-overs were recorded at the person’s home with even a few interruptions and add a raw unique feel to it all. The film itself is harder to watch, but not because it’s bad, but because at times it is all over the place. Instead of the standard documentary formula, this film interlaces various Kubrick films along with the Shining to create a visual narration along with the voice-over and at times just doesn’t work. These moments are few and far between, but it does take a little bit too really get into the film at first. What makes this really works as a whole are the wild thoughts and speculations about the film. There are some that seem legitament and are sure to make you think while others that just seem like the ramblings of a crazy person. It’s great that they included such a diverse commentary as it does create a unique movie experience.
By the end of this film it goes from a hard to get into throwaway documentary to easily one of the most intriguing. Most probably do not know of all the conspiracies or theories surrounding The Shining which will make this film that much better for those people. For those that do know and are involved with all the stories over the years this film will suck you right in to give you a more in depth take on all of them. If you are a Kubrick or Shining fan this is a film you have to check out.