Closet Monster

A creative and driven teenager is desperate to escape his hometown and the haunting memories of his turbulent childhood.

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  • ★★★★½ review by raphael on Letterboxd

    you: the neon demo-

    me, a intelectual: Closet Monster is a 2015 Canadian drama film written and directed by Stephen Dunn and starring Connor Jessup, released in 2015. It premiered at the Toronto...

  • ★★★★ review by Wesley R. Ball on Letterboxd

    Closet Monster is an absolute delight. A neon-lit, synth-infused coming of age tale that melds traditional escapism with personal acceptance, littered with charming metaphors and commentaries that add spots of humor to a heavy narrative about coming to terms with who you really are. Director Stephen Dunn constructs a child's reality that seamlessly mixes with light comical fantasy that serves as a getaway route for our troubled focal character. Between his parents' divorce at the start and his conflicting feelings of romance, Oscar doesn't feel right. There's something aching inside him, waiting to burst forth and make itself known. The answer is by no means hidden- Oscar's feelings on his sexuality are brought into question in his mind not far from the start. Things begin to complicate themselves when Oscar meets Wilder (perhaps a clever play on words for the famous playwright), and his real feelings start to emerge. 

    The story takes a clever turn with audience perception. At first, we are meant to feel empathy for one outcome; but by the end, by the time Oscar's real environment makes itself wholly known, things might turn out differently. The story makes its atmosphere known piece by piece, little by little, until finally a completely different tone dominates the story. Every fantasy, every dream, every inner conflict turns inside out in a beautifully insane denouement that physically manifests every memory and form of escapism that has built up inside Oscar over the years. It's a lovely parable of just being yourself in the midst of a bubbling urge to break out and live life on your own. 

    This is my message to the kid who hated being forced to play in sports to appear like a normal, masculine individual. To the kid whose parents are or were terrified of who they thought you would grow up to be. To the boy who faces years of social rejection and degradation for being different than everyone else. To the guy who feels constant social pressure from an overbearing extended family. To the guy who doesn't feel comfortable sticking to the image his family wants him to uphold. To the guy who doesn't desire to go out for fear of how people perceive you. The high schooler who doesn't speak out much or interact with his classmates often because he knows they'll just put him down. The college student who's terrified of meeting new people or hates his image. Don't give up. Don't ever be ashamed of who you are. Don't just bottle everything up inside and hope that it all blows over. Don't be afraid to speak your mind, to act naturally, to live your life to the fullest. Don't be embarrassed of your looks, your style, your tastes or your preferences. It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. As long as you're comfortable being you, nothing else matters. Don't let anyone tell you that you shouldn't act that way, that you shouldn't like those things, that you shouldn't express yourself in that way. We are, each and every one of us, beautiful in our own unique way; and we shouldn't be afraid of how others see us. Closet Monster is all about the fear of how others perceive someone "different," and how difficult it can be to come to terms with yourself. It can seem like a steep upward hill to climb, but the freedom experienced once we get to the top is euphoric like none other.

  • ★★★★ review by 😻 matthew the skeleton jazz wizard 😻 on Letterboxd

    Realism is an artifice just as any other mode of aesthetic production. Unshackle yourself from the prisons of realism and embrace the pulsating synths and the rebar protruding from your stomach

  • ★★★★½ review by AlexDavies on Letterboxd

    “That’s a nice one. It has a really good pressure”

    “What’s the difference?”

    “That’s a nice one”

    Sparse recollections of youthful anguish, the loss, the abandonment, and familial troubles sown together in a transportive concoction that intoxicates the soul. Closet Monster slipped under the radar least year, and while masterpieces as Moonlight deservedly gets its due, no doubt, this film moves forward with a similar gusto and ferocity in its approach and conflictions of identity. Its style is messy in formation, highest of energy, new wave Dolan/Arnold momentum, the techniques aren’t obvious and the beats are bumping.

    Fear and revulsion of inner self. Quite literally the perfect the title, though obvious. Senses, smells, touch’s and tastes bursting into reality through the seams. Letting your spark take hold of you. Closet Monster is sensitive and vulnerable, yet always self-assured. Darkly strung together with stressfully painful life moments, sprinkled on top with a happier than led to believe ending, you’re left contemplating the impact. And it's potent for a life I’ve never come anywhere close to living, resonating deeply with me. Strobe lights float by when talking in bed creating magic and the shallowly low placed angles enhance the briskly sweeping delirium.

    “I certainly felt something”

    Body horror notched up to 10… metal rods up asses.

    Talking hamster fantasies.

    Yea.

    Stephen Dunn, wow. Second best directorial debut of the year, maybe the best, behind Son of Saul. Finale had my heart racing faster than a cheetah on cocaine, but dissipates leaving you in a gentle state where you feel ready to conquer the world. Shedding off your old self and moving forward from darkness to light. An ode for everyone who never felt quite right with the path that was being constructed for them. Be yourself from the start even if fearful of the world around you. It will save you from personal despair.

  • ★★★★½ review by Wes on Letterboxd

    I'm...too emotionally ruined to write a review. This is one of the only times I had to pause a movie multiple times to remember to breathe because it was too real, too personal, and unexpectedly reflective of my own life in ways I was not prepared for. The dreamy cinematography, the authentic performances, the hypnotic score. I don't know what Stephen Dunn is doing right now but I hope he knows he better be pumping out a movie every year until I die.

    "I think you look happy."

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