By Mark Bell | July 16, 2013

Down on his luck private investigator Sid Pink (as himself) gets visited by the mysterious, and filthy rich, Edith Diamond (Emily Morse), whose husband has gone missing. Seeing dreams of $500 a day (plus expenses) in his head, Sid takes the job, only to promptly get his a*s kicked as Edith is kidnapped from his office. Still, $500 a day (plus expenses) is enticing to the destitute Sid, and he plunges ahead into the mystery of the missing Mr. Diamond (James Sea) against the advice of his assistant, Ashley (Ashley Poole). As his investigation rolls along, he’ll run afoul of local criminal, and lucha libre-aficionado, El Diablo (Joseph Wolff Phillips), meet the gorgeous Vivian Vesper (Bobbie Mitchell) and sink into the seedy underworld of Furries. Yes, that’s right, Furries, as in, people who dress in animal costumes to f**k.

Ryan Demers and Paul Pendell’s The Honey Cooler is a stab at a neo-noir tale, leaving the heavy-lifting to the presence of Sid Pink and the novelty of Furry culture. Unfortunately, the novelty isn’t strong enough, or taken far enough, to make it all that interesting and the story makes very little sense, doubling back on itself in convoluted twists and character motivations that don’t add up.

For example, Sid taking the job to find the husband, you get the motivation. But when the person that hired him is kidnapped, he seems to ignore it because, hey, if he finds the husband, he’ll get paid… by the other person who is missing. On top of that, the kidnappers are not a group that show up and mysteriously disappear, they’re almost always around, meaning it’s pretty clear who is behind what (one of them, TinTin (Jazz Copeland), is a large black man with hair fashioned to look like a unicorn horn; he’s not that hard to miss). By the time the film starts twisting it so that the kidnappers are actually serving this person and not that person, and this needs to be done for that reason (being vague to avoid ruining what little mystery exists in this one), you’ve basically just watched a film that feels like it was made up as it went along.

In the middle of it all is Sid Pink, who speaks in one-liners and seems to give less than two s***s about anything he’s involved with. Which would be fine, except the personality ceases being entertaining early on and just becomes grating. The character is too concerned with coming up with often wordy attempts at cleverness that you wish he’d just ask a straightforward question, or have a simple conversation. Waiting for him to get to his point is tiresome (made worse when the plot still isn’t really making much sense).

Which brings us to the Furry aspect. It’s an intriguing idea to make a neo-noir film and place it within such a subculture. Again, though, outside of the humor of seeing people dressed in silly animal costumes, it’s just a novelty, and one that is portrayed in about as humorous a fashion as a typical adult costume party. It feels like a missed opportunity to do more.

Wrapping it all up, the film doesn’t look all that good, both in the image itself and the compositional choices. The audio also frequently has issues, and the film gives a lo-fi aesthetic that is not utilized in such a way as to make you think it was intentional. The film runs just under ninety minutes, but it feels three times as long. The Honey Cooler is, unfortunately, a dud all around.

This film was submitted for review through our Submission for Review system. If you have a film you’d like us to see, and we aren’t already looking into it on our own, you too can utilize this service.

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