“Room 237” is a shoddily assembled but entertaining documentary about several crazy people’s crazy theories about hidden messages in Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining.” One enthusiast is convinced the film is all about the Holocaust; another asserts that every time the movie deviates from Stephen King’s novel, it’s because Kubrick is inserting a clue about his involvement in faking the Apollo 11 moon-landing footage. (Nobody’s saying we didn’t land on the moon. That would be a crackpot theory! All they’re saying is that the footage we saw of it was fake.)
Director Rodney Ascher uses clips from “The Shining” and other films to illustrate what’s being discussed by the unseen enthusiasts, whose names are given once at the beginning and not mentioned again. Some theories about the film’s layers make sense and can be reasonably supported by what’s on the screen. (The hotel’s floor plan is shown to be impossible, for example.) Other theories are just silly. (The placement of a tray on the hotel manager’s desk is said to represent his erection, for example.) “Room 237” is inelegant in the way it assembles all this stuff — it seems to dump it on the floor and say, “Here, you sort this out” — but anyone who’s ever obsessed over the subtext of a beloved movie will find it amusing.
C+ (1 hr., 42 min.; )