You know that moment, when you're watching a bad film and you think to yourself "that's it, I'm out"? It's the moment when you realize there's no way the film is going to be able to turn it around. It's dead in the water. A done deal. You just know nothing good can come of this.
For me that moment happened 92 seconds into Room 237.
Ostensibly this is a documentary about the many "theories" on Stanley Kubrick's 1980 movie The Shining, and all the hidden clues. It's supposed to be a unique view into the mind of an unusual director. In reality, this is a 1,5 hour soapbox that gives the microphone to people who should never ever open their mouths. Oh, how bad can it be, your line goes. It's beyond bad. This is the single most baffling film I've seen since Battlefield Earth.
The film plays out like this: A handful of insane people have been interviewed about their The Shining theories. We hear their voices, but we never see their faces. The video is comprised of clips from The Shining, clips from other Kubrick films, and clips from films like Schindler's List or just random titles. Like when one of the interviewees mentions that he went into a parking garage, we see a clip from All the President's Men, where Robert Redford walks into a parking garage. Yeah, it's just as stupid as it sounds.
The theories go from the laughable to the ridiculous. The Shining is really about the genocide of the American Indians. No no, it's about Holocaust. No, it's about - deep breath - Stanley Kubrick being frustrated, because he HELPED NASA FAKE THE MOON LANDING. Yeah, you read that right. I'm not going to go into details on these theories, what's the point? Every single moment of this movie is complete and utter NONSENSE. Not a single sane word is spoken at any point during its hundred-minute running time. All the theories spring from either a fundamental lack of understanding regarding film, symbolism, and any aspect of the creative process, or simply from continuity errors. Not a single valid, useful piece of information is presented here. Not one.
You might think that's funny or relatively harmless, but it's not. The biggest problem with Room 237 is that all these theories go completely unchallenged. There's no voice of reason in the film. In other words, for all intents and purposes, the film completely supports every moronic statement put forward and treats them all as fact.
Now, I'm not going to suggest that everyone involved in this film should be hunted down and killed, or that their faces should be reduced to a bloody pulp with a three-inch thick Film Analysis 101 book, because that would be equally irresponsible. However tempting it is, to think up wonderful gruesome ways that these people could be mutilated and eventually slaughtered, I realize that's not the proper way to handle this. They are, of course, very sick people and they should be helped. Let's lock them up in an institution, strap them to a bed, and pump them full of drugs. We'll make the world a little bit better, I promise you.
If the film had challenged these morons, it might have worked. If it had proper collaboration from people who know something about the subject and could have shut down the delusional theories, it could have worked. As it stands now Room 237 is one of the worst documentaries I've ever seen. It fails on every possible level. It's completely irresponsible, offensive, and an utter waste of time.
Full cast and credits at IMDb.