Is Closet Monster (2015) Based on a True Story?

Image Credit: Strand Releasing

Director Stephen Dunn’s debut feature film ‘Closet Monster,’ is a riveting tale about the internalized trauma and fears of a closeted gay teenager, Oscar Madly (Connor Jessup). Following his parents’ divorce, Oscar goes through several ups and downs in his life while dealing with complex emotions about his closeted sexuality. In the end, the film tethers towards surrealism to bring Oscar’s journey to a conclusion.

Given the drama movie’s emotional and sensitive subject material, handling of mature themes, and portrayal of the LGBTQ+ community, it is natural for viewers to ponder whether the film is based on real incidents or true events. If you are looking for answers about the inspiration behind ‘Closet Monster,’ here is everything you need to know!

Is Closet Monster a True Story?

‘Closet Monster’ is partially based on a true story. The film is based on an entirely original screenplay written by Stephen Dunn. However, Dunn drew from personal experiences to craft the film’s story. In an interview, Dunn, an openly queer man, explained that while growing up in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Dunn had difficulty articulating his feelings and emotions stemming from his sexuality. Thus, Dunn was compelled to make a film about internalized homophobia and its effects on young gay men.

Dunn stated that his struggle with coming to terms with his sexuality resulted in self-hate. Moreover, Dunn’s fear about the ramifications of his sexuality’s revelation would often result in stomach ulcers. As a result, Dunn became motivated to make a film about overcoming these issues. After Dunn openly accepted his sexuality, he felt empowered, and the fear was ripped out from him. The writer-director represents the same struggles through the film’s protagonist, Oscar, who suffers from stomach aches that stem from internalized trauma and oppression of his sexual identity. Thus, Oscar’s arc in the film is loosely reminiscent of Dunn’s own life.

In the film, Oscar witnesses a gay teenager being attacked with an iron rod. The incident leaves Oscar traumatized, and he struggles to comprehend and confront his true sexuality. The hate crime, which serves as the inciting incident of the film, is loosely inspired by a series of real-life hate crimes that occurred in Dunn’s hometown. Dunn explained that these incidents shocked the entire community and profoundly impacted him while growing up. The writer-director revealed that he was traumatized by the news of the hate crimes.

While the story is rooted in the real-world struggles of gay men, the film depicts them with the help of body horror tropes. As a result, certain aspects of the story rely on surrealism to bring Oscar’s journey to closure. Therefore, the story isn’t exactly an adaption of Dunn’s life experiences and contains some fictional elements. However, there is no doubt that the movie is deeply personal to the director.

Ultimately, ‘Closet Monster’ draws from the personal experiences of its creator and several real-life incidences to tackle the themes of internalized homophobia and self-hate that young gay men constantly face. Thus, the film presents an emotionally compelling narrative that resonates with the audiences despite using surrealism and body horror tropes.

Read More: Where was Closet Monster Filmed?