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Closet Monster - Stephen Dunn (2015)

Updated: Feb 1, 2021

Haunted by traumatic childhood memories, an artistic teenager is driven to escape from his hometown in a bid to confront his inner monster.


Closet monster is a film, I feel, to have fallen under the radar in terms of male LGBTQ+ media due to the level of dominance that films like Love Simon and Call Me By Your Name have had. They are the two poster boys for films about the male demographic in the LGBTQ+ film category. This film however does not hugely differ from the core themes that the other two have. Directed by Stephen Dunn, it tells the story of Oscar in his teenage years who deals with the process of self-acceptance in the midst of his parents’ divorce. From that sentence alone it doesn’t feel like a film that holds anything new or special to the table, there are plentiful of stories that deal with internalised homophobia and coming out. So, why exactly should this film stand out in a genre which carry out so many of the same tropes? My answer for you; the lens of innocence that this film reels the audience in with. From the very first few minutes we meet our main protagonist and the way he observes and cares for the world is imaginative and separates himself from his peers. This is mainly proven from the talking pet hamster he has, yes you heard me right, and cares for throughout the entirety of the film. Sometimes it feels like the hamster is the only being that truly knows what our protagonist thinks and feels. Acting as a perfect metaphor for self-acceptance; the main root to overcome this inner turmoil is to project into the world around you, to bring life into your surroundings so it can bring life within you. The talking hamster isn’t the only ploy that the director uses, he also uses several elements of body horror which come as quite a visceral shock in a film that paints itself as a normal coming of age story. The elements are justified and not completely out of the blue due to a traumatic event that happens during the start of the film but when it gets bloody it gets very bloody. The tonal shift is questionable as the plate that the director wants to serve the film on, changes shape and colour multiple times which makes it an almost disorienting experience. But could that be purposeful? Could it act a as a further metaphor for one of the most confusing experiences that LGBTQ+ teens have to go through in their adolescence? Only the director knows. Sadly, it was off-putting which made me question the ulterior motives for the film, but it was never enough for me to press pause and live my life without finishing it. The emotions and humanity are very prevalent in the film with an ending that finishes our protagonist story with hope. A hope that I wish all LGBTQ+ teens have or will have in the future when it comes to the importance of their identity.

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