What if the monsters in our closet were really in our hearts? How would we rid ourselves of our terror without destroying what we love?
Coming of age while coming out can be awkward in the best of circumstances, but for Oscar Madly (Connor Jessup, TV’s AMERICAN CRIME,) a fractured family and a sexually ambiguous co-worker complicate his ascension to adulthood. Haunted by the discovery of a horrific hate crime in his youth, Oscar’s internalized anger, shame, and fear manifest in vivid hallucinations. With his seemingly immortal hamster, Buffy (voiced by the incomparable Isabella Rossellini) acting as his conscience and confidant, and his best pal and collaborator, Gemma, Oscar navigates the anxiety of his awakening sexuality amid the overwhelming desire to escape his suffocating and volatile father (Aaron Abrams, TV’s HANNIBAL.) The mysterious Wilder shambles into Oscar’s life, setting into motion an unavoidable confrontation with Oscar’s immobilizing fear.
First time feature writer-director Stephen Dunn helms an original and moody coming out tale, a fantastic story grounded in reality by an honest emotional core. The film feels expansive thanks to its rich and complex characters. Much more than a teen angst film, CLOSET MONSTER is a reflection on how even the smallest actions by parents can influence their children, and how that influence can and sometimes must be shed to embrace our best selves. – Elisa McGovern