London Film Festival Review: Room 237

Directed by Rodney Ascher

Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is one of the most influential and groundbreaking horror movies in cinema history. It’s a multi-layered and devilishly complex work that’s open to a variety of different readings and analyses. That’s the basic set up of Room 237, a film which comprises nine different people’s interpretations of what the film means, from the chin-strokers to the rib-ticklers to the eye-openers.

It’s a fascinating little project that’s aimed primarily at people who have seen the original film, but its oddball charm will certainly appeal to Shining-virgins on some level also. It consists entirely of sound bites of the nine selected enthusiasts over shots of the film as well as footage from other cult classics that act as a humorous visual aid. One man is fixated on the significance of Native American history in the film, one obsesses over his conspiracy that Kubrick helped to fake the Apollo 11 moon landings, one finds peculiar sexual meaning rooted deeply (a little too deeply) in Kubrick’s imagery.

Conceptually it’s lovingly put together and profoundly intriguing throughout, but as a cinematic experience it’s somewhat limited. At times it feels slightly like an extended DVD featurette and its random structure makes it seem longer than it is with no clear sign as to when it might finish.

For diehard fans it’s absolutely essential viewing but for others it’s a fun, smallscale project that won’t change the world but may well change the way you perceive one of Kubrick’s many masterpieces.

4/5

 

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