Review: Room 237 (2012)


Room 237   a subjective documentary feature which explores numerous theories about Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining and its hidden meanings. This guided tour through the most compelling attempts to decode this endlessly fascinating film will draw the audience into a new maze, one with endless detours and dead ends, many ways in, but no way out. Discover why many have been trapped in the Overlook for 30 years.


Room 237  takes some of the quirkiest theories about Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining and showcases their supporters trying to make sense of them. Seriously. I was hoping that this documentary would be something different than what it was (like maybe an in-depth behind the scenes, Kubrick’s actual thoughts, direct analysis of the flick instead of all the various theories) but it just left me wondering . . . how the hell do people think up some of these things?!

Rumor has it that Kubrick’s IQ is something like 200 and he paid meticulous attention to details. Some people believe that means any lapses in continuity were (are you ready?) intentional. And that sends theorists into a whole new whirlwind of speculation and countless hours analyzing something in every scene of  The Shining. Kubrick subscribed to Freudian psychology and has even been quoted directly referencing Freud’s work in relation to The Shining:

A story of the supernatural cannot be taken apart and analysed too closely. The ultimate test of its rationale is whether it is good enough to raise the hairs on the back of your neck. If you submit it to a completely logical and detailed analysis it will eventually appear absurd. In his essay on the uncanny, Das Unheimliche, Freud said that the uncanny is the only feeling which is more powerfully experienced in art than in life. If the genre required any justification, I should think this alone would serve as its credentials.

shiningtwinsKubrick’s films are notorious for delving into the human psyche. I believe he definitely plays with the unconscious – our dreams and nightmare. Or rather, the Torrence’s dreams and nightmares – specifically Jack’s. And this documentary briefly touches on Kubrick’s belief in Freudian psychology and its impact it had on his filmmaking. Undoubtedly, Kubrick’s personal philosophies made his way into his art and set up relevant context for various theories. Some of the theories which this documentary touches upon are interesting, and I would definitely enjoy further discussion about. Does The Shining have some deeper meaning and added layers? Why, yes, I do think so on both accounts. But am I one of those who will sit and muse over, “What was Kubrick REALLY trying to convey to people?” for hours at a time? No, not really.


Do you have an opinion about the hidden meanings in The Shining? Have you mused about the possible subliminal imagery Kubrick employs throughout the film and how a lot of it is indicative of sexual seduction and deviance? Think it represents the Holocaust? Or Native American genocide? Perhaps The Shining is Kubrick’s confession that he was involved with the staging of the 1969 moon landing (conspiracy theorists who believe the first “man on the moon” was a hoax love this one . . .) ? If you answered “yes” or “maybe” to any of those questions, then you may enjoy delving into the minds of fellow The Shining analysts as depicted in Room 237.

“There’s something inherently wrong with the human personality,” he says. “There’s an evil side to it. One of the things that horror stories can do is to show us the archetypes of the unconscious: we can see the dark side without having to confront it directly. Also, ghost stories appeal to our craving for immortality. If you can be afraid of a ghost, then you have to believe that a ghost may exist. And if a ghost exists, then oblivion might not be the end.”

– Stanley Kubrick,  Newsweek 1980

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About Boris

Boris enjoys reading, writing, traveling, performing, roller derby, and costuming in addition to immersing herself in a variety of horrific worlds via literature, art, video games, comics, music, haunted attractions, and cinematic adventures. From zombies to slashers, creature features to B-movies, and psychological thrillers to supernatural stories, Boris is into many different subgenres of horror.