Canadian Stephen Dunn’s debut is wonderfully weird, powerful and different
In this Cronenberg-esque psychodrama, Oscar (Connor Jessup) struggles with his life and sexuality after witnessing his parents breaking up and a horribly gruesome homophobic crime. With the help of his talking hamster, Buffy (Isabella Rossellini), he tries to come to terms with these hefty baggages. Director Stephen Dunn tapes into horror, drama, surrealism and the indie genre to create something you probably never seen.
Dunn’s style may not be anything new. Elements of this movie has been done by the likes of other Canadians such as surreal-horror expert David Cronenberg and powerful drama maker, Xavier Dolan. However, it does feel like very fresh. The coming out story has needed a make over for sometimes now and this definitely is something new. With it’s powerful drama and heavy emotional feel, Closet Monster does stand out from it’s genre.
By far the best element in this indie is the terrific electronic heavy score. Almost every scene is accompanied with fast to medium paced synth which perfectly captures the emotions. Closet Monster does what Nerve couldn’t do and that’s find dedicate an electronic score to the more emotional scenes.
The charisma of the characters add to the movie. Each character is relatable and real while still being part of the story. The actors do a good job carrying the movie with Connor Jessup as the lead. Jessup does a decent job that helps him take the movie to the finish place, but it could’ve been stronger. His acting got too forced at times, especially during the more emotional scenes.
What is the strangest element of the movie is also it’s biggest flaw and that is the talking hamster. There to be an exact mirror of Oscar’s subconsience, it does feel out of place. The humour that the hamster channels congest with the movie’s over all dark tone. Even as a metaphor for closeted gay, it’s not well executed. There’s even a scene where the hamster isn’t aware of its gender and that is never revisited again. To say the least, the talking hamster is just there to be strange and the movie doesn’t need it.
Closet Monster is a strange dark twist on the worn out coming out story. Some elements do feel forced and Jessup’s uneven performance do keep Dunn’s debut film from achieving excellent, however, the film is still one of summer’s best.