Punch (2022) Review by Steve Kirkham

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PUNCH (2022)

3 stars
Miracle Media. UK Digital 22nd January

In PUNCH, Frankie (the actually pretty good Alina Allison) has managed to escape the dead-end drudgery of her coastal home town by bogging off to University. She has returned to try and help her single mum Julia (Kierston Wareing) but can’t wait to get away again. Especially as she her mum has a creepy new boyfriend.

She agrees to one last night “out on the town” (such as it is) with her friends, including close buddy Holly (Faye Campbell) and her ex-boyfriend Daryl – or Dazzler (Macauley Cooper), both of whom can’t understand why she left in such a rush in the first place.

Meanwhile, a killer dressed in a black, hooded coat and wearing an immobile Mr Punch mask, complete with red cheeks, protruding, rosy, hooked nose and squeaky “that’s the way to do it” voice, is going about bloodily bludgeoning youngsters to death – he is apparently a local urban legend used by parents to keep their kids in line, who goes about cleaning up the community of miscreants.

Of course, before long, Frankie and her companions find themselves a target of the squawking slaughterer.

Apparently writer/director Andy Edwards (IBIZA UNDEAD – 2016) has said that there are no iconic British slasher villains a la Freddie Krueger or Jason and the like – and this is his attempt at creating such (though strictly speaking his creation is not really a slasher per se). Unfortunately, I don’t think this will be being placed in such esteemed company any time soon as the homicidal butcher lacks any of the wit of Freddie or the driving scares of a Jason. He is just a bloke wandering a decrepit seaside location, whacking teenagers with his big baton, merrily saying various lines that at times are frankly difficult to understand.

Plus Mr. Punch is such an intrinsically British character, I can’t see this travelling well (though maybe that isn’t the intent). Do any other countries have a puppet show featuring a wife beating clown?

The leading girl, Alina Allison, is believable in her role, some of the violence is brutal, and the rundown seaside locations are well used by the director.

This was, according to the credits, shot in various places around the UK – Hastings, Clacton-on-Sea, Brighton, Camber Sands, Croydon and Coventry. Perhaps optimistically, the end scroll declares that Punch will return.

Steve Kirkham