REview: Hypochondriac (2022) | Depicts Schizophrenia in a Cinematic Though Honest Manner

I’m not typically a fan of movies that depict characters that do things as the result of some vaguely defined mental illness because they’re often entirely geared toward sensationalism.

And while such misinterpretations are the fuel that power most horror movies, sometimes they at least attempt something approaching reality.

Which is what impresses me about Hypochondriac. It feels honest in the way it treats someone who is being effected by the onset of schizophrenia.

Hypochondriac – currently on Tubi! – revolves around Will (Zach Villa), who we meet as a child.

His mother apparently is displaying advanced symptoms of mental illness, such as paranoia and a sense of persecution, which leads to her kidnapping Will – and at one point almost killing him – in an effort to protect him from imagined threats.

Though what’s perhaps is as interesting is his father, who seems almost apathetic to what’s going on around him, though not apathetic enough to not set up cameras to film her behavior.

In fact, his chilliness, the almost nonchalant and matter-of-fact way he responds to what his wife is going through is almost as disconcerting as her behavior (and the movie implies he may have mental health issues of his own, though unlike those of his wife).

There’s video of Will dressed in a wolf costume that his mother filmed – it’s never explained why he’s wearing it – and she’s encouraging him to howl, to release the beast within.

The wolf – very reminiscent of the rabbit in Donnie Darko (2001) – except the movie rejects entirely the science-fiction adjacent premise of that movie and instead makes it by my reckoning a fragment of Will’s rapidly splintering psyche.

What the movie does particularly well is to have what’s happening to Will feel as if it’s hereditary, and that whatever his mother was going through, is now his cross to bear.

And speaking of Will, Zach Villa’s performance is particularly brave and noteworthy because it’s not only good, but the trust he puts in the director, Addison Heimann, is pretty remarkable.


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