Film Review: Hanky Panky; Lo-fi comedic horror effort is intentionally nonsensical – whether you like it or not!

To call Hanky Panky inexplicable at times would be an understatement.  And in no way is that intended to be an overt criticism towards Nick Roth and Lindsay Haun‘s wild comedy-horror effort that delights in its science-fiction mentality whilst bathing itself in batshit insanity.

It’s an acquired taste of a film, and it definitely benefits from viewing under whichever substance the audience sees fit, which, again, isn’t criticism, but perhaps a call of light warning for viewers who are unprepared for how unbridled the film’s personality can be.

The film itself is set around Christmas, which is so often never as merry or as welcoming as the season would like itself to be.  At the centre of Hanky Panky is Sam (Jacob DeMonte-Finn), a socially awkward gentleman whose sentient handkerchief, Woody (voiced by Toby Bryan), only further compounds his natural anxiety.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Sentient. Handkerchief.

Because of Sam’s questionable state of reality – he is conversing with a handkerchief after all – the film likes to play with the temperament of the unreliable narrator.  And when a heft of dead bodies start piling up from the supposed friend group sharing this wintery time together in an isolated cabin (because, what else?), it’s up to Sam to uncover if he’s genuinely losing his mind or not.

It’s very clear from the immediate get-go that Hanky Panky hasn’t been made as an accessible comedy for the masses.  This is quite a distinct genre outing, one that wears its lo-fi trimmings on its exaggerated sleeve.  There’s technical mistakes throughout (the lighting may drastically shift from scene-to-scene), the puppetry effects are glaringly obvious, and the performances are all allergic to the notion of subtlety.  But that all seems as if that’s the point.

The love of stoner comedies and random ensemble pieces is evidently a soft spot for Roth and Haun – they have named such features as Wet Hot American Summer and Caddyshack as inspiration – and watching something like Hanky Panky, you can tell how much fun the cast is having playing characters in situations where no reaction can ever be deemed too much.  But that’s also to the film’s detriment too, as other audiences that don’t gel with its inconsistencies may give up on its intentional nonsense before it can prove itself further.

Hanky Panky isn’t pretending to be something else, but it’s also opening itself up to criticism for all the things it isn’t and “should” be.  Roth and Haun have assembled a cast of game players who are telling a ridiculous horror-leaning story in an appropriate setting.  But, Hanky Panky is also an entirely nonsensical comedy that could easily annoy its viewers with its amateurish value and delivery.

However one responds to what unfolds on screen, it can’t be taken away from the co-directing duo that they’ve made the type of film they want to.  A sentient handkerchief and an eventual killer hat (voiced by Seth Green) should be enough to know if you’re going to vibe at all with this Clue-like mystery.


Hanky Panky is now available on Digital and On Demand through Amazon Prime, Apple TV+ and Fandango in the United States.  An Australian release is yet to be determined.

Peter Gray

Seasoned film critic. Gives a great interview. Penchant for horror. Unashamed fan of Michelle Pfeiffer and Jason Momoa.