The coming-of-age (and out-of-the-closet) story gets an imaginative twist in the first feature by writer-director Stephen Dunn. Winner of the Atlantic Canadian Award at AFF 2015 and of the Canada Goose Award for Best Canadian Feature Film at TIFF 2015, Closet Monster is ceaselessly inventive in its chronicle of an East Coast teen wrestling with his sexuality and learning to find his own way in life.
High-school student and aspiring special-effects makeup artist Oscar Madly (Connor Jessup, Blackbird) needs out: out of the Newfoundland town that is stifling his budding creativity, out of his restrictive home life, and out of the closet, where he has fearfully remained after witnessing a brutal hate crime as a young boy. While he finds much-needed support from his best friend Gemma (Sofia Banzhaf) and his pet hamster, Buffy (who talks to him via the voice of the great Isabella Rossellini, Brand Upon the Brain!), Oscar is haunted by horrifying visions of the consequences of revealing his homosexuality—a fear that is compounded by the presence of his increasingly judgmental and erratic father (Aaron Abrams, TV’s Hannibal, Republic of Doyle). When Oscar meets the handsome Wilder (TIFF Rising Star Aliocha Schneider), he is immediately attracted and utterly terrified. With his fantasies becoming darker and ever more vividly real, Oscar finds that he must break free of the chains that bind him and live a life that is true to who he really is.
Impressing his unique sensibility on every frame of his remarkably accomplished debut feature, Newfoundland native Dunn establishes himself as one of Canada’s brightest young talents. Striking, sometimes shocking and often unexpectedly funny, Closet Monster is simply a stunner.
“Autobiographical but also singularly imaginative, this formally exuberant bildungsroman plays like a Gregg Araki film with a dash of Cronenbergian psychosomatic body-rebellion thrown in.” (Harry Windsor, The Hollywood Reporter)
“An imaginative spin on the coming-of-age tale that blends together both straightforward storytelling and recognizable emotional beats with creative flourishes. Dunn plays around with perspective and style, but all the flash doesn’t obscure the film’s emotion and heart, which are deep and true.” (Katie Erbland, Indiewire)