Movie review: “Room 237” delves into maze of obsession with Kubrick’s “The Shining”

By Columbus Alive
From the April 11, 2013 edition

“Room 237” is a maddeningly fascinating look into elaborate fan theories about the hidden themes of Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining.” If there was ever a movie with enough of a labyrinth to get lost in, that’s the one.

Every theory presented in the documentary seems wilder than the last. Was “The Shining” actually about the Holocaust? The genocide of Native Americans? Kubrick’s own involvement in faking the moon landing footage?

Director Rodney Ascher creates a patchwork of interviews of obsessed fans who have carefully combed over every frame of the film. They find significance everywhere to support their claims, and their faceless voiceovers are accompanied by clips from Kubrick films and other footage to support these ideas.

Ruminating on these ideas for a while has the strange effect of making some of them start to make sense. The film bounces among theories so much, it becomes as hypnotic as those famous tracking shots of little Danny’s Big Wheel careening through the Overlook hotel.

Undeniably, Kubrick is the greatest director for this sort of over-examination. It’s worthwhile just to dissect the sheer density of the director’s work.

Meticulous if occasionally ridiculous, “Room 237” is a fascinating look at both the film and fan obsession. For Kubrick fans in particular, it’s easy to get lost here.