Room 237 REVIEW

Room 237 DVD review.

Release Date: 11 March 2013
2012 | 15 | 102 minutes | £19.99
Director: Rodney Ascher
Interviewees: Bill Blakemore, Juli Kearns, Jay Weidner, Geoffrey Cocks, John Fell Ryan

If there’s one thing this by turns bizarre, amusing and illuminating documentary proves, it’s that Jack Nicholson’s caretaker wasn’t the only person left trapped in the maze in The Shining. Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 Stephen King adap seems to have driven some of its audience round the bend too.

There are no talking heads. Instead, audio recordings of five people with particularly involved theories about the film’s “hidden meanings” are illustrated via slow-mo replays and clips from the rest of Kubrick’s oeuvre, wittily interspersed with snippets from other movies – many of them cultish genre flicks like Dreamscape, The Brain From Planet Arous and The Beast In Heat.

Perhaps the most compelling case is made by veteran ABC correspondent Bill Blakemore, who asserts that the film concerns the genocide of Native Americans. Even then, the fact that his starting point was a can of baking powder with an Injun logo leaves you wondering whether anyone’s had an epiphany about the Heinz tomato ketchup containers in the same shot. At the other end of the scale is Jay Weidner, who’s worryingly convinced that the film is Kubrick’s coded confession for his role in faking the Apollo 11 moon landing footage.

At times, the search for evidence becomes so strained that it’s downright hilarious, as we’re told that a figure in a poster resembles a minotaur (it doesn’t), or that Kubrick’s face can be seen in the clouds (only if you’re wearing glasses with a bearded man felt-tipped on them). At one point we’re encouraged to ponder the deep significance of a frame where an alignment of the hotel manager and his letter tray momentarily gives him a horizontal erection. Given Kubrick’s legendary attention to detail, you can understand why people are wont to scrutinise his work in microscopic detail, but sometimes a letter tray is just a letter tray.

Still, Kubrick fans will find the way the film points out things you may not have noticed – a disappearing chair, a TV with no power cable, an office with an geographically impossible window – interesting, regardless of whether you consider such things to be meaningless inconsistencies, continuity errors, or carefully seeded clues.

Extras: None.

Ian Berriman

Read more of our DVD reviews.
For an alternate perspective, read our Room 237 review from the theatrical release.