‘Hypochondriac’ Review: A Wolf in L.A. Peep’s Clothing

Hypochondriac” informs viewers appropriate absent that it is “based on a actual breakdown,” which definitely supplies a new wrinkle on the now-wildly-overused “true story” proviso. Even so, clarity of hindsight is not a big virtue in this adventurous 1st element by writer-director Addison Heimann.

The offbeat indie drama functions Zach Villa as a Los Angelean whose troubled previous threatens to unravel his domestic partnership and his pretty sanity. The blend of gay protagonists, mental sickness exploration, horror tropes, and surreal things that gesture toward “Donnie Darko” make for an formidable mix that holds interest, even if the uneven, fairly muddled effects are ultimately more effortful than insightful.

Following a festival tour that features a midnight berth at SXSW and fitting slot in style-centered Fantasia, XYZ Movies will open the movie in constrained release on July 29, with digital and VOD launch adhering to Aug. 4.

A prologue reminiscent of 1960s/’70s put up-“Psycho” chillers — in which Mother was usually the agent of formative psychological scars — has younger Lindo aka Will (Ian Inigo) at the mercy of his unstable mom (Marlene Forte). Beset by paranoid delusions, she drags him from their tony Souther California home to a motel place, exactly where she just about strangles him to death before regaining feeling sufficient to commit herself to an asylum. He’s left to the treatment of his coldly distanced father (Chris Doubek).

Eighteen many years later on, Villa’s now 30-year-outdated Will is a potter, regardless of what lingering PTSD problems in adequate command that he can serene a co-worker’s (Yumarie Morales) anxiety attack, as well as set up with their insufferable gallery-proprietor manager (Madeline Zima). He’s also got a great matter going with Luke (Devon Graye), the boyfriend of eight months that he’s living with. But the previous rears its hideous head when Mother, incommunicado for a decade, commences deluging him with crackpot phone messages and weird packages he tries to ignore.

It can not be coincidental that he shortly begins dealing with dizzy spells, disturbing visions, workplace mishaps, nausea and additional. A line of consulted medical and psychiatric professionals, performed in superciliously off-kilter style by numerous common faces (like Paget Brewster and Adam Busch), assure him it is nothing at all to be concerned about. But issues get even worse, significantly once he would make the baffling determination to choose some psychedelic mushrooms Ma had thoughtfully mailed.

That terrible excursion revives the prolonged-dormant individual specter of a gentleman-wolf with glowing eyes that terrorizes him, even as it gets to be apparent it’s no “real” supernatural menace but a figment of his tormented unconscious. Such hallucinations fast endanger Will’s occupation, relationship and wellness, as properly as (possibly) those people close to him.

“Hypochondriac” — a title that appears rather irrelevant, outside the house the sequences in which a variety of medical professionals and shrinks belittle our hero’s signs — has a challenging agenda only partly articulated in Heimann’s script, while possibly a bit about-articulated in his really chaotic route. Visible strategies below contain a 360-degree digital camera pan, superimpositions, on-screen text graphics, heightened colour, blurred, distorted and Rorschach-like mirrored visuals, et al. The intent is to evoke a dislocating, nightmarish mood. Much too normally, even though, it feels much more like a frenetic grab-bag of sampled methods.

It doesn’t support, either, that the filmmaking is overly showy even right before Will loses his grip: He’s released as an grownup in an annoying songs-movie-type scene of dancing in the pottery studio, followed by an excuse for improv rap and beatboxing. Villa (who played Richard Ramirez on “American Horror Story”) is duly ingratiating. But the seriousness of the film’s consider on psychological sickness would have tremendously benefited from his staying on a shorter leash when it comes to inventing sweet actorly bits of business, largely in scenes with the sympathetic Graye. When he’s not getting puppyish, he’s managing the gamut of hysteria. So frequently going around the leading for affect, really couple of times below are as strong as a single long static shot in which the two male leads have a painfully straightforward breakup conversation.

Indeed, for all the sound and fury expended on illustrating Will’s psychological disarray, we by no means get much of a diagnostic grip on it. Subsidiary figures are primarily caricatured, providing even less terra firma from which to understand his plight. When the movie finishes with a feeling of acceptance and at the very least partial restoration, there is much more feeling of acquiring been on “a ride” than certainty of just what he’s acknowledged, or is semi-recovered from. Offered that “Hypochondriac” is mostly an expressionistic portrait of psychological unwell-wellness fairly than a genre film (inspite of all flirting with horror and thriller aspects), that absence is a significant flaw.

Nonetheless, its model and subject matter make any difference are bold-enough choices to impress, especially inside of in the oft-formulaic context of recent LGBTQ cinema. Although not each notion right here will work, a resourceful tech and style deal led by Dustin Supencheck’s widescreen cinematography places its ideal foot ahead in provider of Heimann’s eyesight.