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Punched After the Fact

average rating is 2 out of 5


Patrick Foley


Posted on:

Mar 22, 2023

Film Reviews
Punched After the Fact
Directed by:
Ian Stewart Fowler & Gabriel Isaac Lakey
Written by:
Ian Stewart Fowler & Gabriel Isaac Lakey
Donny Persons, Nikki Flynn, Eric Martin Reid

Dynamic, indefinable, opaque and mysterious, Punched After the Fact from director/writers Ian Fowler and Gabriel Isaac Lakey is a self-described psychological romantic comedy that is a film of contradictions – managing to be both unique and memorable yet one that fails to make a real connection with its audience or engage it with a conflated story.


Lonely, eccentric and disillusioned janitor Davie (Donny Persons) is at a crossroads in his life when he is held at gunpoint by a psychotic and equally eccentric assailant Haley (Nikki Flinn). Sensing a kindred spirit, Davie is drawn to Haley. But when he finds that she has a stalker, the mild-mannered Tanner (Eric Martin Reid), he concocts a plan with his son Ricky (Ahmed Toney) to engage her on his terms.


Punched After the Fact is a film packed with originality, but one that doesn’t leave enough of an emotional impact to really engage viewers throughout its runtime. It’s not for lack of effort, and not without some gripping moments. The protagonist Davie is colourful and memorable for his peculiarity and Joaquin Phoenix ‘Joker’ like tendencies (with a clear homage in a notable dance routine down a set of steps), and the film’s pivotal, plot-launching scene when he is held at gunpoint by Nikki Flinn’s Haley is a fascinating and unpredictable watch. The spiral-dance of the character dynamics make this key relationship captivating, and demonstrates the film’s potential when these scenes take centre stage.


But outside of individual scenes which stand out due to their independent construction, the plot itself does not knit together well or develop an engaging throughline to keep its audience fixated on where the story will head next. And whilst the characters who populate the film are memorable for their distinctive traits and colourful attire, an emotional core can be lacking in much of their presentation which leaves viewers disinterested in their decisions and fates. We never get a true sense of goals or objectives to cling to. Add in clunky and awkward dialogue throughout the film, and despite originality, it begins to fall short as an overall story.


There are some interesting performances – particularly from Donny Persons who is convincing as outcast Donny and keeps what could have been a much darker role jovial and appealing. Nikki Flinn gets to embody the strange and bipolar Haley, demonstrating a similarly strong grasp of a difficult and unusual character. The film is also shot well, with some interesting scene construction – though nothing outstanding enough to really treat the viewer particularly given a longer running time which slows down story-wise too often.


Despite its originality then, Punched After the Fact lacks too many standardised qualities to really succeed. There is promise and charm to the film, but a confusing and convoluted story and erratically engaging characters mean this is less of a haymaker and more of a glancing blow.

About the Film Critic
Patrick Foley
Patrick Foley
Theatrical Release, Digital / DVD Release, Indie Feature Film
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