ROOM 237 (unrated)

Room 237 (unrated)

Home video helped popularize 'The Shining,' leading to the bizarre theories proposed in 'Room 237.'
Home video helped popularize 'The Shining,' leading to the bizarre theories proposed in 'Room 237.'

Movie Info

Rating: * * * 

With: Bill Blakemore, Geoffrey Cocks, Juli Kearns, John Fell Ryan, Jay Weidner, Buffy Visick.

Director: Rodney Ascher.

Producer: Tim Kirk.

An IFC Films release. Running time: 102 minutes. No offensive material. In Miami-Dade only: O Cinema Wynwood

One person believes The Shining was Stanley Kubrick’s commentary on the Holocaust. Another points out clues that reveal the film is really about the genocide of Native Americans.

Someone else claims the movie was the late filmmaker’s way of letting us know the Apollo 11 moon landing was faked, and he directed it. Yet another fan believes the film was carefully designed to be projected backwards, which would reveal hidden clues.

In Room 237, director Rodney Ascher never shows us the faces of the people analyzing The Shining. There are none of the usual talking heads you’d expect in this sort of deconstruction: Instead, he uses clips from the movie, as well as some of Kubrick’s other films, with just the occasional bit of animation or dramatic re-enactment to stress a particular point.

Ascher treats all these insane theories seriously, but that doesn’t mean you have to. Room 237 isn’t a work of cinematic criticism, although it does prove you can find meaning in anything if you stare at it long enough. The film’s true subject is obsession — a love of movies, specifically — and he has found the perfect subject in The Shining, a picture few people liked upon its release in 1980 but that has since worked itself onto a permanent perch in popular culture.

Our familiarity with The Shining — with Jack Nicholson’s iconic over-the-top performance; with the geometric patterns of the Overlook Hotel’s rug; with that axe bursting through a bathroom door, a terrified Shelley Duvall screaming inside — makes Room 237 intriguing even if you don’t buy any of the theories being floated. Ascher uses slow motion and freeze-frame to reveal details you probably haven’t noticed before, like a poster of a minotaur in the Overlook’s game room that pairs up nicely with the climactic chase through the maze. He traces Danny’s rides through the hallways of the hotel to show how Kubrick toyed with the building’s architecture, always keeping us off balance about what was lurking around that next corner.

One speaker in the movie asserts Kubrick was a “bored genius” when he made The Shining (he had a reported IQ of 200) and amused himself by inserting little Easter eggs throughout the movie (the magazine Nicholson is reading while waiting for a tour of the hotel? Playgirl). You don’t have to buy any of the nutty theories in Room 237 to appreciate what Ascher has accomplished: He makes us reconsider a widely seen film from a new and strange perspective that leads to even greater mystery and fascination. Why does that typewriter keep changing color, anyway?

Read more Reeling with Rene Rodriguez stories from the Miami Herald

 <span class="cutline_leadin">What’s the secret?</span> Karen Gillan and Brenton Thwaites are a brother and sister trying to solve the mystery of a demonic mirror in ‘Oculus.’

    Oculus (R)

    Mirrors have been as much of a fixture in horror movies as knives and cats that suddenly jump from the shadows. But they’re best in cameos, as in the ending of Dressed to Kill or the bathroom scene in The Shining. Oculus revolves entirely around an ornate mirror that is, what, a gateway to hell? A summoning force for evil spirits? A really ugly piece of furniture from a medieval Pottery Barn?

Iko Uwais and Cecep Arif Rahman square off in a scene from ‘The Raid 2.’

    The Raid 2 (R)

    Every time you think The Raid 2 can’t possibly top itself, writer-director Gareth Evans goes “Oh, yeah? Watch this.” Most of 2011’s The Raid: Redemption took place inside a tenement raided by a SWAT team to apprehend a mobster and his squad of killers holed up inside. Practically no one survived the movie — the violence was astonishing — but the contained setting and the idea of having events grow hairier for the good guys the higher they went in the building gave the tight 101-minute movie a sense of compressed, relentless action. Now comes The Raid 2 (known as The Raid 2: Bernadal in its native Indonesia), which is far more expansive and complicated, and runs almost 2 ½ hours. Miraculously, the new picture makes the old one feel like Evans was just warming up.

A sexual addict (Charlotte Gainsbourg) visits a therapist (Jamie Bell) with unorthodox methods to try to help get over her compulsion in ‘Nymphomaniac: Vol. 2’

    NYMPHOMANIAC VOL. 2 (unrated)

    Nymphomaniac Vol. 2 (unrated)

    Things get really kinky in Nymphomaniac Vol. 2, the second chapter in director Lars von Trier’ epic-length saga about a woman who can’t get enough. If you saw Vol. 1, which ended with our perpetually horny heroine Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) losing all feeling in her sexual organs, you might be wondering, “How could this movie outdo the first one?” To quote the great Bachman-Turner Overdrive, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category