REVIEW: Hypochondriac (2022)

dir. Addison Heimann

Opening with the text “based on a real breakdown”, director Heimann’s debut follows Will (Zach Villa) from childhood into adulthood. Aged twelve his mother (Marlene Forte), suffering from a serious mental illness, tried to kill him and because of this when Will becomes an adult he tells his partner Luke (Devon Graye) that she’s dead. However after years of no contact she reaches out: Will is forced to tell the truth whilst also starting to feel sick, both physically but also with brain fog and confusion.

As Will’s condition becomes harder to ignore he starts experiencing terrifying, visceral hallucinations: his vision doubles and blurs, whilst expert editing from Mike Hugo equally disorientates. Googling his symptoms throws up terrifying names of potential illnesses, his stress spiralling and perspective warping. It’s difficult for Will – and the audience – to know exactly what’s happening, the unreliability of the narrator adding to mounting layers of dread. 

Spanning the sub-genres of queer, body and psychological horror, Heimann delivers on every front, exploring trauma in a way which is simultaneously captivating and exceptional.

© Ariel Powers-Schaub


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