SXSW 2022: Mental Wellness Goes Into ‘Donnie Darko’ Territory in ‘Hypochondriac’


Will is a young, gay pottery makers who works for a boss who could give two shits about his wellbeing and only sees the bottom line of how many expensive, hand-made pots he can churn out. He’s in a happy, successful relationship with Luke. At his work, he offers helpful advice to a co-worker on managing her panic attack and it works. Will kinda has his shit together. Until his past catches up with him.

Will has a secret that he’s been keeping which is about his mother who he hasn’t spoken to in about 18 years due to her bi-polar breakdown when he was a kid. But she’s coming back into his life whether he likes it or not. Constant voicemails and strange packages lets Will know, she’s out of the hospital.

His fingers begin to lock up and his anxiety begins to increase. He’s having issues working and his boss is not understanding in the least. He goes to various doctors for advice with each of them offering the same solution, “the mind is a powerful thing” and telling him that it’ll go away on its own. Of course, it only continues to get worse as his past continues to come back to the surface.

Written and directed by Addison Heimann and based on Heimann’s own experience, ‘Hypochondriac’ lacks true character development and stacks a whole lot on the main performance of Will (Ian Inigo) who does their best to try to make sense of the messy screenplay. 

We get a small glimpse into Will’s family life with his father who hasn’t been impacted by his mothers mental breakdown and doesn’t seem to have time for Will’s pending break.

From here Will destroys his relationship with Luke, uncovers more of his past and his hereditary and ultimately decides to find ways to face his inner self. I’ve heard people describing the film as “funny” but I didn’t seem to find humor in it’s story. 

This is when the film really loses me as it decides to utilize (plagiarize?) the iconic character of Frank from ‘Donnie Darko’ as Will’s invisible friend. It’s shocking. It’s jarring. And it checked me out of the film completely at this time. The design is the actual character of Frank the Bunny only now it’s a wolf. The same type of trippy, hallucinations are presented in ways that continue to feel like a lame duck rip off. 

This is unfortunate because I think the lead performance is really terrific as is most of the direction given the budget, but the contrived screenplay and copycat elements hold it back from its own unique self.

SXSW 2022: Mental Wellness Goes Into ‘Donnie Darko’ Territory in ‘Hypochondriac’