Movie Review: Room 237

Continuing from The Shining review, I wanted to see this because of the director, Rodney Ascher. When I found this movie’s info, his name caught my attention because I was familiar with his previous film that served as a springboard for the format of this film.

“The S From Hell” premiered at Sundance back in 2010. This was a nine minute documentary about the Screen Gems logo. Online reviews ranged from “I’m glad I’m not the only who was scared” to “Is this for real?” Where I stand on the matter, the idea that a logo can be so terrifying that it garners a nickname like that is true. As a moderator for the CLG Wiki, we were surprised and, to some extent, pleased that this phenomenon was presented to a larger audience. I take the interviews as fact rather than fiction. But the way it was done explains the format for Room 237, something I’ve seen is neglected in most reviews which leads to a missed opportunity for learning. It is told through re-enactment and footage of either the film itself in the case of Room 237 or stock footage. If you haven’t seen Room 237 yet, I strongly urge you, in fact, require you watch “The S From Hell” here. After all, I used the logo’s audio for my own logo animation for Screen Gems and mention the fact in the video’s description on my Vimeo page.

Now, to the film itself. For those of you who don’t know, The Shining is claimed to have clues throughout the film about what it really means; these theories include Native American genocide, the Holocaust, Kubrick faking the moon landing, just to name the main ones. There are websites out there that try to piece together their own meaning. Here, the film tries to cover the bases, using interviews from different people.

The movie does it’s best to illustrate these claims, no matter how far-fetched they are. Subliminals are claimed like how when Jack first meets the manager at the beginning, the manager is placed so that it looks like he’s aroused, the infamous Calumet can and Tang containers in the food storage area, the inconsistent floorplan. They claim that these have a purpose and a meaning. I believe that while Kubrick may have possibly done these on purpose, the purpose was that because the Overlook Hotel had a horrifying past, these inconsistencies are caused by whatever paranormal activity takes place, seen or unseen.

The professional quality of the interviews could have been cleaned up. One notable instance includes a child crying in the background and the movie actually stops so that the problem can be solved. Was it really that hard to just restate the information without the child crying? Apparently so as it’s left in.

I would say that I learned a few things from it about the synchronization of the forwards and backwards viewings superimposed on each other. I tried something similar by using VLC player to watch The Shining and made it so that it was a mirror image. Knowing Kubrick’s style, it produced some interesting results. Of course, the joke goes that if you watch it backwards, it’s all about a family coming together and becoming happy by staying at a hotel and the father going back to answer a survey.

I would say that I was disappointed, despite my wanting to see it. Don’t get me wrong, it does present the theories on film. I do like the logo’s parody of the opening of the source material. You can only go so long without seeing the face of the speaker before you want to see them, which doesn’t happen here. Do I buy into the theories? No, but I watched it to be entertained; that promise was half-fulfilled. Do I recommend it? Sure, if you want to see a different side of the Kubrick film, though if you are a fan of the film you probably would have heard all these theories before. I probably will get a physical copy for my library just as a reference.

I do give it props for ending with a really nice arrangement of “Dies Irae.” That and a callback from another logo at the end. And yes, the amount of cash I paid for the watch in Save the Date is a reference to the room. Also, as of the post’s original publishing, Askimet has protected me from 237 spam comments. Spooky.

5/10

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8 thoughts on “Movie Review: Room 237

  1. Nice write up. I liked this to a point but I agree about the quality of the interviews, they could have been better. The theories are absolutely crackpot, most of them at least, but it’s more about showing how much of a legacy the film has and how it affects people even now.

    • I saw it online and now that I’m thinking of it, Tuesday’s the DVD release date. So far, my Sunday papers have nothing about it in their ads, all hyped up for Iron Man 3 and Doctor Sleep. Did you see “The S From Hell”? by chance?

      • It’s a lot more common than you think. The most popular logo from recent years that’s making the rounds is the Klasky-Csupo robot logo, to the point where the company actually has a webseries in the works just on the logo.

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