User Score
6.1

Generally favorable reviews- based on 57 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 36 out of 57
  2. Negative: 12 out of 57

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  1. Apr 1, 2013
    4
    For every interesting point these Kubrick "experts" make, there are two Dark-Side-of-the-Moon-played-along-with-The-Wizard-of-Oz leaps of faith. There's value in exploring the intricacies of such a classic film, but the pacing of this documentary suffers due to the inclusion of some pretty silly (and lengthy) conspiracy theories. Unless it's really a movie about ridiculous obsession. In that case, 11/10. Expand
  2. Nov 1, 2013
    1
    I love documentaries. This is the worst documentary I have ever seen. It seems to have been pieced together by a film school student. Each person picks out random meaningless items and state this is the focus and point of the movie. You can look at a poster and state that poster is the entire meaning of the movie. One commentator has to pause so he can take care of a crying child. This is not professionalism. I was completely intrigued by this and it is time that I spent that I will never get back. Do not watch this documentary. Save yourself. This has nothing to do with Stanley Kubrick or The Shinning. It has everything to do with untalented delusional people that want to feel a part of something bigger. Expand
  3. Apr 1, 2013
    3
    There are some really interesting points about Kubrick's use of perspective and there is probably something to the Indian genocide theory. But then it tries to make a connection with the fake moon landing hoax?? Not only that but the filmmaker just assumes the viewer believes that crap and gives no evidence that the moon landing was faked, the nut case narrating just says its fake... so it is. Overall its an interesting watch all the way up to when they talk about how Kubrick filmed the moon landing and then you can just turn it off. Unless you're one of the morons who think we didn't go to the moon, then keep watching and enjoy the idiotic lies. Expand
  4. Mar 31, 2013
    0
    An utterly laughable tin-foil hat wearing conspiracy nut fest, possibly the worst thing I've ever had the displeasure of watching, i'd ask for my time back but i doubt the people who made this cares about the viewers.
  5. Jul 13, 2013
    2
    This has to be a joke. Can we just talk about how poorly made this is? The score, interviews, talking and narration is all incredibly choppy and the dramatizations are pretty bad. The people talking about their beliefs are essentially babbling; their arguments and discussions are embarrassingly incoherent, not only in what they're saying, but how they presented it. There are multiple times near the ending where these dumbasses negate and contradict their entire arguments, which are already inane to begin with. One argument says that a tray on a desk makes it looks like Ullman has an erection while shaking hands with Jack. Another says that Room 237 is a sex room and all of the carpet patterns look like penises. We don't know any of the people, their names or their jobs, so they have no credibility at all. One of the men confesses that he's unemployed and obsessed with The Shining, while a woman confesses that she got one of her conspiracy theories from her nine-year-old son. The documentary is such a terrific idea but its execution was shockingly, painfully bad and it actually made The Shining one of my favorite films of all time worse. The more they talked about it, the worse it got, and I got angrier. The people talking sound like they're mentally disabled or mentally ill; there are parts where the voiceovers stop and literally they say, "Wait, I have to help my son. He's crying, but I don't know. Ha ha." These people are so painfully stupid. I've been YouTube videos infinitely better than this pile of crap. A woman behind me was dying laughing at the film, and I started laughing as well. I guess I got some laughs out of it, but they ultimately bored me and made me angry with one of my favorite films of all time. 2.5/10, abysmal, two thumbs down, far below mediocre, etc. Expand
  6. Apr 8, 2013
    4
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. I'm shocked the critics liked this as much as they did. It's strange that you never see the documentarians' faces during the film and the stock footage of old movie-goers is annoying as hell. Most importantly, toward the end, the narrator explains that he was unemployed at home thinking about the movie obsessively and that he has no idea if any of this stuff was really intended by Kubrick. He suggests that the subjective intent of the artist never really matters. Hmmmm. As for the good stuff, all of the Apollo 11 imagery is interesting, but suggesting that Kubrick faked the images of the actual moon landing seems like a stretch even though the never say that the moon landing didn't happen. The Native American images were certainly interesting to dwell on. But to spend so much time on "cool" coincidences in overlapping images when playing the film backwards and forwards at the same time is ridiculous. My final thought is that it's great dwelling on this film again after all these years, but this movie seems like the musings of the film editor for High Times magazine, not fodder for a feature film. Expand
  7. Apr 13, 2013
    4
    Went to this film with three The Shining/Kubrick devotees--ready to love this doc. Didn't happen. It opens with the descriptor: "a documentary in 9 parts" or something to that effect. Well, let me tell you that the sophisticated art house audience I saw it with was antsy, annoyed and ready to walk out by part 5. Re-watching The Shining footage is fun. The obsessive, odd, contrived and ridiculous "thematic theory" voice overs of the five or six offstage talking heads are alternately funny, interesting and just plain dumb. But that is the conceit of this film... how one can piece together any theory that you're LOOKING for giving enough viewings. (Okay, honestly, that "Minotaur"-ski-poster woman is just nuts.) The 'food pantry scene' became fodder for several theories ranging from the genocide of the American Indians to Kubrick's guilt over participating in the faked footage of the Apollo Moon landing. Problem is that this all gets silly, boring and then annoying after an hour or so. NO ONE in the audience I saw with left pleased with the experience as a whole. It was more a shake-your-head and vow not to indulge this over-indulgent doc director with your valuable time again. Expand
  8. Apr 13, 2013
    5
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Yeah, sure, it's awful silly and, that's a good point. Great in fact. Anything over analyzed is, don't you think? And that's what's happening here, isn't it? Enjoy the ride and the film is fine, a 5 pointer out of 10. 10 being the best. Well, one could say, there are things that any film maker obsesses over, any film maker, and, that carries with all their films and approach, with every film. Maybe Kubrick made the landing for a deal to return to the states no harm no foul. But, he left because he hated what the U.S. govt. was has always seems to do. Someone forgot to bring the camera. It was faked so that, just in case it the live feed didn't work, they could show their fake footage as real, and, every one knows, we shoot into the trees in vietnam films to show folks back home we're doing something.... Expand
  9. Jun 9, 2013
    5
    The Shining is a great film by a brilliant director known for his attention to detail. Therefore the assumption of this documentary that there is nothing on this film by accident is stretched to the point that every speck of dust is analysed and potentially paraphrased as noone is really in the mind of Stanley Kubrik. And even though parts of it are somewhat interesting as a topic of conversation between cine-files, the full picture carries far to many ludicrous theories to be taken seriously. Expand
  10. May 31, 2013
    8
    Do not miss t point of this documentary. It is a window into the world of the cinephile conspiracy theorists that is almost as disturbing as The Shining itself at times. Crackpot theories range from connections to moon landing fakery to Holocaust undertones, each put forward by fanatical and obsessed writers and amateurs. The documentary gives these people plenty of opportunity to explain their ideas, but that doesn't mean it agrees with them. It relates how kubrick's movies were so intricate and detailed that they sucked some viewers into an overlook-like world of endless overanalysis and misinterpretation Expand
  11. Jul 29, 2013
    8
    Very interesting docu on The Shining. Instead of talking heads the docu consists of shots from Kubrick and other movies while you hear different people explaning stuff. Cool approach! Some stuff is really far fetched but they do acknowledge that, but if you've seen the Shining and wan't to know more about it's hidden meanings I can highly recommend this!
  12. Dec 23, 2013
    6
    An interesting topic selection when it comes to the theme the doc is contributing. But, poor execution and unclear when the main suggestion is that the Moon landing was fake and that was Kubrick who directed the so called video of it. Could have been better
  13. Apr 25, 2013
    6
    A documentary, that in some way tries to prove that cinema is a form of art, because what is art, if not something (among other things) that makes us think?! Room 237 proves that certain movies and certain movie scenes can be interpreted many ways. Most of the ideas presented in this documentary are silly or ridiculous, so this way Room 237 is also about obsession. Movie obsession. Also about the human mind that seeks for hidden meaning, and pattern when there is none. Could be better if they would focus on some more "legit" theories, or made a comparison with Kubrick's other movies. Also felt it was overlong, and after about an hour I felt somewhat bored. Worth a look for anyone interested in cinema. Collapse
  14. Sep 25, 2013
    7
    "Room 237" is a subjective documentary that gives voice, and only voice, to five fanatical obsessives who have developed numerous theories based on sensational clues in the subliminally glimpsed details within Stanley Kubrick's classic "The Shining." There are five very different points of view illuminated, and first time director Rodney Ascher utilizes voice over, film clips, animation, and dramatic reenactments. These elements together draw the audience into a new labyrinth, one with endless detours and dead ends presenting many ways in, and ultimately no definitive way out.

    Ascher has intelligently presented his film with a working balance between the sublime and the ridiculous. In order for "Room 237" to work it must establish some credibility to avoid becoming an outright parody of sorts. Kubrick was a notoriously meticulous filmmaker, and there are a series of continuity "errors" in the film that do genuinely seem out-of-place. Persuasive arguments coexist with far-fetched notions as our narrators find symbolism and metaphors in the most innocuous places.

    Most of the speakers were let down with their first viewing of the film, but went back to it, convinced that a brilliant cinematic director couldn't just produce an overly mannered misfire. There must be something more to it than just that. They started to map the geography of The Overlook Hotel, read the posters and props, studied the set decoration for clues. The conclusions widely vary from our group of obsessed fans, suggesting the "The Shining" was really about the Holocaust, a Greek myth, American Manifest Destiny, the genocide of the Native Americans, and Kubrick's formal apology for his part in the faking of the moon landings by Apollo 11.

    We don't know to this day whether Kubrick intended to disguise symbolism into "The Shining," as though he were challenging moviegoers. He did not leave any interviews, magazine articles or books revealing this intention like the magician who even on his deathbed would not reveal his tricks. But this omission is the very thing that allows Ascher to glorify Kubrick as a man who could create a real sense of mystery and unease. For example, the typewriter used by Jack in the movie is a crucial piece, as is the repeat of the number 42, which appears on a jersey and elsewhere. As one of the narrators states, “If you put the number 42 and a German typewriter together, you get the Holocaust.” I wasn't aware of that relationship either, but Ascher illustrates this part of theory by cutting from the notorious tsunami of blood in “The Shining” to a photo of Auschwitz, and then back to Kubrick’s red wave. “Because it was in 1942, the Nazis made the decision to go ahead and exterminate all the Jews they could. And they did so in a highly mechanical” --Mr. Ascher cuts back to the Jack's typewriter “industrial and bureaucratic way.”

    Mr. Ascher’s documentary is something of a maze, puzzling your way through its compilation of vaguely lucid and outlandish ideas is unquestionably entertaining for avid movie lovers. It does raise interesting ideas about how we view films, and what happens if we take the act of viewing a movie into a deeper, more fundamental experience. Thought provoking all of this is, but then again, you're likely to leave the theater with the underlying feeling that "It's nothing more than an interpretation."
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  15. Apr 21, 2013
    8
    There are more than a few theories presented during this documentary and almost all of them are at least entertaining to listen to. An exercise in stretching your brain in terms of how you view a piece of art. There is nothing concrete on display as far as information is presented and since we will never truly know what Kubrick intended with his film, it is a fun way to wonder about the many layers of subtext that the genius was certainly capable of creating. Expand
  16. Mar 29, 2013
    8
    Room 237 is a documentary on making Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece The Shining... And it's epic. The film has good pace it's a good movie and very good acting. The film is disturbing and good at the same time.
  17. Sep 25, 2013
    9
    Great Documentary!! Huge Kubrick fan and this is a must watch for any of his fans. You will not be disappointed. Very intriguing and pieces a lot of information together from The Shining.
  18. Jun 12, 2013
    6
    Some of the theories sound insane and probably are, but they are all entertaining. Any Kubrick fan should watch this documentary at least once. Just to see how through Kubrick's attention to detail and overall brilliance people can extract anything and everything.
  19. Nov 11, 2013
    0
    This film made very wild assumptions about the most minute of details in Kubrick's The Shining. Some connections were so loose that I could barely believe they were being discussed in a serious manner. I had to create an account simply for the fact that I thought this movie was so bad, and if I can save just one person the time it takes to watch this film, it will all be worthwhile for me. Avoid.
  20. Dec 23, 2013
    3
    Yeah, I love Stanley Kubrick and all of his films (except Barry Lyndon beautiful to look at but snooze time). The Shining is a great film and is totally picked apart by a strange group of people who fill this documentary with odd findings and conspiracy theories that really demand patience from the audience more than anything else. I found very little of it interesting (if I had found none I would have rated lower), and found most of it just silly. I found myself amused by the absurdity of it more than interested by the premises. Expand
  21. Apr 18, 2014
    4
    Lots of stretching in this one, and the arguments aren't that clear. If incoherence and boredom are the main goals, then the film has succeeded in spades.
Metascore
80

Generally favorable reviews - based on 30 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 30
  2. Negative: 1 out of 30
  1. Reviewed by: Rick Groen
    May 10, 2013
    63
    Are these enlightened critics or dark nutcases themselves?
  2. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    Apr 18, 2013
    83
    The credibility of these theories ranges from faintly plausible to frankly ridiculous, but Ascher isn't interested in judging them; his movie is more about the joys of deconstruction and the special kind of obsession that movies can inspire.
  3. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Apr 18, 2013
    88
    Watching Room 237 is like being stuck on an airplane next to a stranger hellbent on convincing you of his very detailed, very paranoid theory of the universe. Actually, it’s like being stuck on a plane full of those guys, each with a different yet compellingly insane take on reality. And the in-flight entertainment features only one movie: “The Shining.”