With Punch having just premiered at FrightFest, we tracked down writer and director Andy Edwards after the screening to discuss his bold new British slasher film. Edwards’ previous films include Ibiza Undead and Graphic Desires, and he offered a very in-depth analysis of the making of Punch throughout our detailed interview. The interview was conducted in person after the premiere, and you can read the full transcript below.
Punch takes place in a small British seaside town, where the residents are terrorized by a baseball bat-wielding maniac wearing a Punch and Judy mask. As the body count begins to rise, the town’s few surviving residents are forced to band together in order to solve the mystery of the psychotic killer before they become his next victims.
Dread Central: Why have Mr. Punch as the killer in your film?
AE: Mr. Punch came from the location, really. I found the location first. I wanted to make a British slasher movie, but I couldn’t think who the killer would be until I came up with the idea of the location of a British seaside town. As soon as the British seaside town location came to mind, I thought there could only really be one killer. It had to be Mr. Punch. And Mr. Punch is a creepy character, anyway, it didn’t take much to make him into a villain. He’s already a pretty villainous character.
DC: And why does he use a baseball bat?
AE: Well, he had to hit people. He normally uses a stick or a rolling pin when he’s a puppet. And the modern equivalent feels like a baseball bat, which also has a bit more reach. He can do some real damage.
DC: And can you talk about the cast?
AE: Yeah, I cast three people who are making their feature film debuts in our three lead roles. They will be new to audiences. We have Alina Allison, who plays Frankie, the lead, then we’ve got Faye Campbell, who plays Holly, her best friend, and then Macaulay Cooper, who plays Darrell, her ex-boyfriend, and they were our three young leads.
And then around them, we have some horror favorites, people who have been in a lot of horror movies. Fans should recognize them. Dani Thompson was there. Ayvianna Snow was there. Sarah Alexandra Marks was there. And then we have some older characters, such as Kierston Wareing, who was in Fish Tank. She’s an incredible actress. She plays Frankie’s mother. And Jamie Lomass plays her mother’s boyfriend. You probably recognize him from Hollyoaks and Eastenders. He’s a familiar TV face. And then Daniel Fathers plays a character called The Harbinger. He’s a well-known horror character actor who was in The Void and Pontypool, and a lot of TV shows. There’s a real mix of young, up-and-coming talent, and more well-known and experienced faces.
DC: I noticed the film also contained a reference to Spider-Man, with the line ‘With great power comes great responsibility’. And I wanted to ask when the same character simultaneously says “Look at me” twice, was he referencing Heath Ledger’s Joker?
AE: Well, he’s drawing on those kinds of characters. Villains and such. He thinks he’s profound, basically. He’s not, but without going into spoilers, he thinks he’s doing great things. But he’s not. He’s doing terrible things.
DC: I wanted to ask about the underwater filming, as well.
AE: Yeah, the underwater filming was tricky. We planned to do it on location because we shot ninety-nine percent of the film genuinely on location. We were shooting mainly in Hastings, a little bit in Clapton-on-Sea, and we were on a pier, we were in an amusement arcade, we were on a beach. There were no sets, it was all entirely practical, apart from that underwater scene. We wondered if there was a safe way to throw a stuntman off a pier at night. We thought about it, and we decided against it. Our stuntman said he would do it, but it would not have been a good idea. We would have needed a team of health and safety stunt divers. So, the scene was actually shot in south London, in a water tank there. It was an extra pick-up.
DC: And did the rest of the filming go smoothly?
AE: It went as smoothly as it could on a low-budget independent movie that was shot almost entirely on location. We shot in a different location almost every day. One day we were on the beach, one day we were on the pier. And there were lots of night shoots, and the weather was dreadful. It was snowing on the beach. And we were obviously filming in real towns, so there were people to deal with, the general public. There was a guy who lived under the pier, who we had to make friends with.
DC: Was he in the film?
AE: He’s not in the film. But in the film, there’s a character, a crazy guy, who lives under the pier. And we went under the pier to film it one night, and we found a guy who actually lived under the pier. And he was actually super friendly and helpful.
DC: How he was helpful?
AE: He wanted to know what we were doing. He asked Freddy, our first AD, how he could get into the film industry. And Freddy told him that we were working on eighteen-hour day and night shoots, so he probably had a better life living under a pier.
DC: And what about a release date?
AE: We’re sorting that out now. It should be released early next year. It will screen at a few more festivals, and then it should be hitting streaming services early next year.
The plan is for this to be the first of many. There has never really been a proper British slasher franchise. So the plan is to do Punch 2 and Punch 3. We are going to explore the mythology of Punch. Then we are going to take Mr. Punch around the world. We are going to have flashbacks to seeing the origins of Punch, with historical versions. There’s a whole Punch franchise out there. We just hope this one does well.