Smrithika Majukar tips her hat to the offbeat and genre-blurring genius of Hanky Panky.

Hanky Panky is a genre-bending rollercoaster that seamlessly blends elements of comedy and horror, all while descending to a new level of insanity. The film draws inspiration from titles such as Wet Hot American Summer and Caddyshack, evident in the unique concoction of humour, drama, and classic whodunit intrigue. Directors Lindsey Haun and Nick Roth revealed that the plot and production process captured this energy by locking their whole cast and crew together in a drug-fueled-summer-camp-like setting. 

Hanky Panky is a surreal success in ambitious independent filmmaking. The lack of funding was a driving force for creativity, pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved with resourcefulness and a supportive network. The film was shot in the cabin of the directors’ relative, with a different DOP every week. The cast chipped in for all costs, shared crew responsibilities and the lights were borrowed from a friend. Despite these limitations, the film still achieves the mystery observed in Kenneth Branagh’s Agatha Christie adaptations, or Rian Johnson’s Knives Out sagas; but if they were cast with SNL actors.

The characters in Hanky Panky are a delightful assortment of the bizarre, adding a refreshing twist to the traditional horror comedy formula. Sam (Jacob DeMonte-Finn) is best friends with his talking handkerchief Woody (Toby Bryan) – and Woody is turned on by the prospect of cleaning. Diane (Ashley Holliday Tavares) and Cliff (Anthony Rutowicz) take orders from a talking hat (Seth Green). A pantsuit provides a major plot twist. The dedication to the absurd serves as a catalyst in creating a cinematic experience that yields a spectrum of emotions in one sitting. 

The film’s lighting, puppetry, direction, and performance play pivotal roles in determining the tone of each scene – whether it leans towards comedy or horror. Strategic switches in visuals or musical score play with romantic and comedic tropes, working against expectations that Blockbusters set. Hanky Panky does a splendid job in knowing the rules and breaking them. Every point is well-plotted, and each twist feeds into each trope in symphony. This dynamic interplay adds layers to the narrative that keeps you on your toes.

When this mystery-comedy-horror and visual treat hits your nearest screen, bring your napkins – or hankies – in preparation for the tears of hysteria.

Hanky Panky will be available to watch on Apple TV worldwide from 19th April 2024.


Podcast: Nick Roth Co-director and Writer of ‘Hanky Panky’



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