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Generally favorable reviews - based on 30 Critics What's this?

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6.2

Generally favorable reviews- based on 72 Ratings

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  • Summary: A documentary that explores the numerous theories about the hidden meanings within Stanley Kubrick's The Shining which continues to inspire debate, speculation, and mystery more than thirty years after its release. Using voice over, film clips, animation and dramatic reenactments, Room 237A documentary that explores the numerous theories about the hidden meanings within Stanley Kubrick's The Shining which continues to inspire debate, speculation, and mystery more than thirty years after its release. Using voice over, film clips, animation and dramatic reenactments, Room 237 investigates five very different points of view drawing the audience into a new maze, one with many ways in, but no way out. Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 30
  2. Negative: 1 out of 30
  1. Reviewed by: Manohla Dargis
    Mar 28, 2013
    100
    Like “The Shining” and its maze within a maze, Mr. Ascher’s movie is something of a labyrinth. Puzzling your way through its compilation of vaguely lucid and crackpot ideas is pleasurable though, for avid movie lovers, it may also feel like a warning.
  2. Reviewed by: Ian Freer
    Feb 10, 2013
    100
    Room 237 captures the true nature of viewing, talking about and dissecting movies to the nth degree and it is infectious.
  3. Reviewed by: Noel Murray
    Mar 27, 2013
    91
    The effect of Room 237 is intense. It’s a deep dive into the rabbit hole of semiotics, designed to train viewers to become alert to what they’re really seeing.
  4. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Mar 26, 2013
    80
    Room 237 asks that you bring your own noodles; as docs go, it leaves you with questions, some worry and rib-sticking satiation.
  5. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Mar 29, 2013
    80
    Even these ludicrous notions illustrate the real point of Room 237, as I see it, which is that “The Shining” is a disturbing, complicated and highly unusual creation of pop cinema that works on many levels, and whose slow-acting toxin continues to spread through our cultural veins more than 30 years later.
  6. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Apr 4, 2013
    75
    I found most of what's actually put forth in the film interpretively ridiculous. But I'm just one theorist among millions, and the film worked for me anyway.
  7. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    Mar 28, 2013
    38
    I’m probably more intrigued than 99.3 percent of the American public by the idea of deconstructing the hidden symbols in Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining,” but the theories proposed in the doc Room 237 aren’t eye-opening. They’re laughable.

See all 30 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 26
  2. Negative: 9 out of 26
  1. 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 aGreat 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. Expand
  2. 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 andRoom 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. Expand
  3. 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"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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  4. Apr 8, 2013
    4
    This review contains spoilers. 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. Collapse
  5. 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 ofFor 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
  6. 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 choppyThis 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
  7. Jun 14, 2014
    0
    Moronic. Avoid at all cost , unless you think Bigfoot was behind the Kennedy assassination. In fact, that might be a better theory than theMoronic. Avoid at all cost , unless you think Bigfoot was behind the Kennedy assassination. In fact, that might be a better theory than the ones you get here to explain the meanings behind "The Shining". Expand

See all 26 User Reviews

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