LGBTQ horror film “Hypochondriac” is a look at what untreated trauma can do to a person. Writer / director Addison Heimann takes a simple idea and turns it into a very dark, creepy, and unsettling drama.
The film has a strong opening and then a slow set up, but the horror picks up about an hour in. This isn’t a typical jump scare type of movie, but one with deep themes that many will find meaningful. What categorizes it as a genre film is that Heimann uses a demonic wolf as a metaphor for the childhood trauma that consumes the lead character.
Hispanic gay potter Will (Zach Villa) is living with long-buried childhood trauma. When he was 12, his mentally ill mother (Marlene Forte) was sent away after she tried to kill him in his bedroom. It’s something that has haunted the man for over a decade, but his dark past breaks out when his mother suddenly emerges back in his life.
Unusual things start happening to Will. At first, he loses the functioning of both of his arms, unable to work. He then begins to be suspicious of his loving boyfriend and loses all trust. Things get even worse when he starts to see visions of a man in a menacing wolf costume. This drives Will to the brink, and he’s scared that he is becoming his mother.
Villa turns in a terrific lead performance as Will, showing a skillful range that takes his character from happy and carefree to overpowered by paranoia. He becomes a frightening emotionally and mentally disturbed man, and is the strongest aspect of the film.
“Hypochondriac” gets a little too artsy, is a bit long, and bangs the metaphorical drum too hard. But it’s a haunting, well made film that expresses the ways trauma can lead to devastating consequences without proper treatment.