Room 237

An enjoyably weird pseudo-documentary about Stanley Kubrick's 1980 cult horror film The Shining, and five obsessed fans with conspiracy theories about what it "really" was about. Although these fans are never shown on camera, they are allowed to ramble at length about their ideas via voiceover narration, with footage from The Shining (indeed, from all of Kubrick's work, and from various other unrelated movies as well) illustrating their points without further commentary.

Ascher's direction truly comes out in his editing, since this is essentially a "found footage" assemblage, with occasional motion graphics employed to point out particular details. While the footage and the cuts are sometimes used to drily comic effect, Ascher otherwise keeps an objective distance from his subjects' wild insights, letting the audience decide which of these five fans might actually be on to something, and which are total kooks. Was The Shining, as some of these theorists would have us believe, about the genocide of the American Indian, Kubrick's involvement in a "faked" moon landing, or the Holocaust? Ascher leaves it up to us.

Ascher, in fact, kind of leaves everything up to us, which eventually makes Room 237 (named after the infamous haunted hotel room of the Kubrick film) a frustrating experience. Is this a look at how people can find far more in an artistic work than its maker ever intended? Is it an earnest venture into the mind of Stanley Kubrick, who was certainly not averse to loading his films with symbolism? Is it a cheap laugh at the expense of conspiracy theorists? We'll never know, because Room 237, while engaging, never becomes greater than the sum of its parts. It is solely of interest to Shining enthusiasts, especially those who have seriously wondered just what Kubrick was trying to say with it – if anything.