Hanky Panky (2023)

Now Available to stream on VOD.

It takes a special kind of balls to make a film so utterly abstract and bizarre and not pay the cast. But the press release insists that “nobody got paid” therefore they must have had a lot of faith in this project. Lindsay Haun and Nick Roth’s horror comedy is a weird cabin in the woods sitcom that pits a bunch of new age yuppies against a weird evil force. This force involves a sentient talking handkerchief, a supernatural fedora and a main protagonist who has an encyclopedic knowledge of finer materials and clothing fabrics.

Sam is a middle-aged, socially awkward man who seems to have an encyclopedic knowledge of fabrics. Sam’s best friend happens to be a talking napkin named Woody, who has a habit of making himself heard on awkward occasions. To make matters worse, Sam soon learns that he was invited on a vacation in a rural cabin by accident, and none of the other holidaymakers who planned to enjoy their trip in the mountainside retreat are thrilled by his presence.

Explaining it really doesn’t do “Hanky Panky” any justice. It’s considerably stupid, and insanely weird, but it’s almost hard to stop watching it. It’s not a bad movie at all, as Roth and Haun hold a particularly interesting enthusiasm behind the camera that’s so obvious. Not to mention the cast seem to spend an inordinate amount of time improvising certain moments, all the while playing well off of each other. There are even some passing moments of slapstick where certain cast members crack a smile. It was obvious that the shoot was raucous and this reflects on a film where the whole concept of the horror comedy is severely bereft of memorable horror.

A lot of the narrative is a lot like putting pieces of a puzzle together with characters sneaking in to corners and investigating odd goings on involving a Parisian outfit. All of this is helped by an inexplicably cognizant handkerchief who aids protagonist Sam in not just getting his bearings in order, but also keeping his wits about. If that’s not unusual enough, the evil hat is voiced by none other than “Robot Chicken” creator Seth Green. Green’s wife, Clare Grant, is one of the ensemble of the picture so it’s not a huge surprise that he’s featured in some fashion. It is typical of Green that he’d choose voicing a piece of cloth over anything else.

For the most part, the cast are very good in their respective roles including Jacob DeMonte-Finn as the awkward, albeit eccentric Sam, as well as Lindsay Haun, Clare Grant, and Ashley Holliday Tavares, respectively. “Hanky Panky” certainly will not be for everyone, but if you’re willing to invest ninety minutes in a horror comedy that doesn’t pretend to be anything but the weird kid in class, then it might tickle your fancy.