I thought I was a pretty big fan of the late Stanley Kubrick. That is, until I squeezed into a jewel box of a theater Sept. 13 to watch Room 237 at the Toronto International Film Festival. I was in the company of hundreds of other movie-goers whom I can only consider fanatics when it comes to the iconic director of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Clockwork Orange and The Shining.
"OK, is there anyone here who has never seen the Shining?" asked a TIFF host before the screening. No hands went up.
"How many here have seen the movie more than five times?" Almost every hand went up (including my own).
"How many have seen The Shining more than 10 times?" The majority of hands stayed up. The audience began to laugh pretty loudly.
"Twenty times? Thirty times?" This was getting ridiculous. More than 100 hands stayed in the air.
Room 237 refers to the mysterious room that is the centerpiece of The Shining. And this film is a hilarious documentary about a number of people, presumedly very smart people, who see The Shining as much more than a horror film. Instead, they see direct references to the Holocaust, the United States' genocide of Native Americans and so much more.
"It's not just a documentary," said director Rodney Ascher. "This film is about obsessive-compulsive behavior."
Is it ever. And if you can go along for the ride, the film is an absolute hoot because everyone in it takes themselves so seriously.
"For the last two years of my life, I submerged myself into an incredibly deep rabbit hole to make this movie," said Ascher. "But come on inside the hole with me. There's plenty of room."
When Room 237 garners an American distributor—and I have no doubt that it will—my guess is that this movie will eventually attain cult status. It's as crazy as it is brilliant.