Principal Cast: Connor Jessup, Aaron Abrams, Isabella Rossellini
Closet Monster is a fresh and highly original take on the coming-of-age story. In his feature film debut, director Stephen Dunn uses masterful tone and visual authority to create a film that moves in and out of reality.
Oscar is an aspiring special-effects makeup artist finishing his last year of high school in a small town in Newfoundland. Oscar hangs out with his best friend, Gemma, who shares his dream of breaking into the big time in New York City. Oscar’s only other friend is his pet hamster, Buffy (voiced by Isabella Rossellini). Since he lacks nothing in ambition or talent, Oscar’s biggest obstacles are dangerously unresolved issues from his childhood. Buffy sums up the situation best as she comforts Oscar: “I was born in a factory farm to an overweight rodent who tried to eat me. It doesn’t mean my life can’t be different.”
Trapped in a mind-numbing job at a home-improvement store, Oscar meets his new and effortlessly sexy coworker, Wilder, whose tattooed heedlessness triggers a hormonal tsunami. Oscar is forced to confront the sexuality that he has been conditioned to regard as unsafe—something that must be hidden.
An intriguing mix of touching drama and whimsical fantasy, Closet Monster is a treat for the senses as it blends macabre horror with playful innocence. Dunn’s film plays with perspective and style, but all the flash never obscures its deep emotion and heart.
Winner: Best Canadian Feature—2015 Toronto International Film Festival