For any regular readers of this blog, you know I love The Shining. It's my favourite all around horror movie and one of my favourite movies period. So when I caught wind of the documentary Room 237, I was in like sin. Two things I love together at last: over-analyzing things and The Shining. So when Room 237 was released on March 29th on iTunes, I cleared my schedule and rented it like I'd never rented anything before... with my Visa.
And then it started. And then it kept going. And my attention waned. I couldn't look at another food can or poster in the background of a scene and believe that the whole movie centered around it. It's oddly disorienting because the film talks to 4 or 5 different people about their opinions of The Shining but you never see them. Their disembodied voices float over stills and clips. I couldn't really keep track of who was who and what they were getting at. At all. It was like a really shitty version of The Shining. Like the one with Steven Webber.
What director Rodney Ascher seems to forget is the most basic of story telling and argument building: build your argument with concrete facts explaining how they related the object as a whole then bring us to a conclusion. But nope. It was a lot of pointing at things in the background or subtle nuances that go unnoticed for a few viewings (i.e. typewriters changing colors, objects appearing and disappearing within the same scene) and then just pointing them out.
LOOK! That poster about skiing represents a Minotaur (if you squint and aren't wearing your glasses)!!
LOOK! Stanley Kubrick's face is in the clouds in the opening shot!!!
LOOK! Kubrick faked the moon landing because of that dot in the sky in the footage of the Apollo landing!!
LOOK! A figurative erection!
Um... that's really great you guys, but (as Jack Skellington might say) what does it mean?! Build your argument about how The Shining exposes the film landing and build it into the overall meaning of The Shining. Tell me about what impact these traits of masculinity have on the story and how it influences the meaning of the overall movie. Don't just point out things. Four year olds do that, but they are waaaaaay cuter than you.
The one interesting part of Room 237 was when Juli Kerns (I believe) was discussing the layout of The Overlook Hotel and how none of it adds up or makes any sense. I would have loved a more detailed discussion on how the architecture changes as the movie progress and what cause and effect that has on the story.
Room 237 is a pretty colossal failure in terms of both content and execution which is almost impressive when you consider the source material. If you put any of these experts in The Overlook Hotel they'd be stuck there for decades as the most boring ghosts ever: "Look at this thing Danny! And this!... Forever ... and ever... and ever..."