Girl in the Closet (2023)

Girl in the Closet (2023)

More of an overlong PSA than an actual film, Girl in the Closet uses the shock value of human trafficking, but fails to explore its complex reality



United States of America
Drama, TV Movie
Daijah Peters, Danielle LaRoach, Remy Ma
88 min


This is the kind of TV movie that plays late at night or very early in the morning—basically when no one is up to catch it.

What it's about

After her mother is hospitalized, Cameron (Daijah Peters) is taken under the wings of her Aunt Mia (Tami Roman), a seemingly caring figure with a dark secret.

The take

Girl in the Closet is a low-budget TV movie that gives us a peek into the lives of trafficked children, but nothing more beyond that. There is no compelling story or drama; no suspense as to how the children might possibly escape, or rousing speeches about how the system failed these kids. Instead of a real plot, the movie strings together one shocking abuse after the other and constantly jumps forward in time (one year later, five years later, nine months after) in an attempt to rush towards its predictable ending. It would’ve been thoroughly unwatchable if it weren’t for some dedicated performances, namely by Peters and Roman, who give much more than what the flimsy script and loose editing deserve. 

What stands out

Though the filmmakers have yet to confirm it, some viewers connect the film to the real-life “Girl in the Closet,” a victim named Lauren Kavanaugh who was kept in the closet as a toddler and subject to domestic and sexual abuse. If it’s true that this movie lifts from Kavanaugh’s case, it feels disrespectful to put out something as slapdash as this to commemorate her and other victims’ struggle. It’s this gall, more than anything, that stands out about this movie. 

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