Logline: A teenage boy named Oscar, who is haunted by a tragedy from his childhood, comes to terms with his sexuality.
Independent cinema is dying. It is becoming more difficult for independent filmmakers to have a platform on which to produce their films. This is a travesty because it is these same filmmakers that push the creative boundaries of the medium. Stephen Dunn’s debut Closet Monster, a Canadian indie film, is stunning and deserved a much wider release than it received.
It would be easy to categorize Closet Monster as a gay coming-of-age film but it is so much more than that. This is a very personal film for Dunn, who grew up in St. John’s, New Foundland, where the film takes place. In an interview, Dunn stated, “I was compelled to develop Closet Monster out of a desire to articulate the complex feelings of self-hate and internalized homophobia I felt growing up in St. John’s, Newfoundland.” The film focuses on a gay eighteen-year-old named Oscar Madly. As a child, Oscar witnesses a violent and terrible crime committed against an older gay classmate. As a result, Oscar equates being gay with violence and his emerging sexuality becomes something to be feared rather than embraced. Closet Monster is very much a visual film, in which Oscar’s internal demons are externilized. As a teenager, Oscar is forced to confront these demons when he falls for a mysterious and attractive coworker. The visual imagery used to illustrate Oscar’s complex and conflicted feelings is graphic and shocking, to say the least. As a young gay man, I could relate to Oscar’s journey in more ways than one. However, the film has universal appeal and exemplifies the type of creative expression that the film industry needs more of these days.
Oscar is the lens through which we see the film and Connor Jessup gives a strong performance. Isabella Rossellini provides the voice of Oscar’s talking hamster Buffy. Closet Monster is a wonderfully bizarre film with a stellar soundtrack. A visceral and engrossing experience, Closet Monster is an excellent debut and I look forward to Dunns’s future films.