(I actually really like this carpet…I wonder if I can get it for my house?)
Room 237 directed by Rodney Ascher is a documentary film about The Shining. I dislike The Shining. So why did I watch this film?
Well, I love a good documentary for starters. And I’ll be honest, I’m a sucker for a good rating on Rotten Tomatoes (which this film has, 93% to be exact.) But mostly, I’ve always wanted to like The Shining. You know those certain things in life where on paper, it looks like you’re favorite film/book/shirt/place but in reality, it just falls flat? That’s what The Shining was for me. As a big Stephen King fan, (over half of my book shelf is filled with his books…), and psychological thrillers being my favorite genre, I just couldn’t see how it would fail…but it did. (Plus who doesn’t love a movie with Jack Nicholson?!)
Anyway, I started watching Room 237, not expecting much because of my dislike for The Shining itself, but as soon as it started, I was hooked. The film uses footage from The Shining (and yes I had seen the film before, but it all felt like new to me) and voice overs from people who believe in theories/believe they know the many meanings behind Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.
There are many theories featured in the film (you might say even conspiracies) about The Shinings meaning ranging from and not limited to, The Genocide of The Native Americans, The truth about the Apollo Moon Landing, and The Holocaust. And I’ll be honest, I got on board with every damn one of them. Maybe that’s just me, but they all seemed pretty plausible…and even if you disagree and think they all sound a bit nuts (they kind of do) you’ve got to admit, it’s really interesting. Plus seeing footage of The Shining playing whilst superimposed on top of The Shining being reversed was really really cool. I want to start watching every film like it.
The people who feature on the film are hard core fans of The Shining, that’s no secret. And as a hard core fan for many other things, I can relate. It got me excited, intrigued and most of all, I really wanted to watch The Shining again with a fresh pair of eyes that was ready to appreciate The Shining for all that it is. So what is it?
Well, on the very surface, to me, with my old eyes, The Shining is a decent 80’s thriller. Maybe were desensitized, but for me and my friends who’ve seen it, it’s not that scary. Shelley Duvall (Wendy) is annoying and over the top, and quite frankly, it feels like not much happens at all accept the scene with the ax that everyone knows whether they’ve seen it or not.
But that was before I re-watched it.
Oh boy, (did I really just say Oh boy?!) was I unprepared for what Room 237 did for me and this film. I was scared. Genuinely on edge, nervous and uneasy, just how I like to feel when watching a thriller. Not only was I scared, but I was into the film. By that I mean, I wasn’t constantly checking Instagram or getting up for drinks, I was watching every scene, my eyes scanning each shot to take note of the things the people pointed out by the wonderfully obsessed people in Room 237. The hotel layout was something that really interested me the most. In Room 237, one of the narrators point out that many times the hotel layout, is physically impossible. That means windows in places where there could not be a window, going in doors and coming out into a diffrent background, carpet patterns changing in a matter of seconds…I could go on. Kubrick really layered this movie whether you believe in the theories or not, and what I find most effective is the subtlety of it all. The suggestion that things aren’t quite right, or maybe, aren’t even happening as they seem, is pretty damn cool if you ask me.
And lastly, I have to give my girl Wendy a little shout out. I was young and naive when I watched The Shining, now I am full of wisdom and curiosity (and still young but…you know what I mean) thanks to Room 237. So on second watch, Shelley Duvalls performance which I thought was awful at first, through my new set of eyes, I think she was pretty amazing. I actually really liked her. From the start I picked up a lot of resentment from Jack towards Wendy, and to be honest all she did was try and be a good wife and mother. She even did all of the hotel maintenance work Jack was supposed to be doing. Even her pathetically waving the knife around seemed rather brave to me on second watch, poor Wendy was just trying to save her creepy but cute little child from psychopathic Jack (also, I appreciated his performance so much more. He genuinely made me feel uneasy when he was shouting at Wendy, imagine being trapped in the middle of nowhere with him like that…)
So what is the purpose of this post? I’m not sure. Maybe it’s a review for both The Shining and Room 237, maybe it’s a post to help people like me who want to like The Shining but can’t, maybe it’s just me rambling on about a movie people have been raving about for years…or maybe all three. I’m just glad I got to experience The Shining for what it is (and more) and have a new film added to my treasured favorites that I can watch again and again, speculate about and still even get scared by. Yay, now if I could just find a way to get out of this maze…
PS- All work and no play makes people go crazy. So I’m told. I wouldn’t know, I don’t do any work.
PSYCHO CINDERELLA’S SCORE- 8/10
You can buy Room 237 here!