Just like the rest of the world, actress Amber Doig-Thorne was entirely baffled when she first saw the pitch for Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey. “I read the synopsis,” she chuckled. “And I remember thinking… this is a bit wild.” The gory slasher picture follows a crazed six-foot-tall adaptation of AA Milne’s beloved teddy bear, who slaughters people after his master, Christopher Robin, abandoned him. It’s pretty messed up (if not totally hilarious) and was only made possible when the original source material’s copyright expired in 2021, allowing it to slip into the public domain. And director Rhys Frake-Waterfield didn’t pull any punches on the movie’s production.
If you’ve seen the grotesque Winnie the Pooh costume worn by Craig David Dowsett, you’ll know just how horrifying it is. So when Doig-Thorne – who plays Alice – saw it in person on set, she was taken aback.
“It was a surprise,” she giggled, with a hint of nervousness. “I actually first saw the costume when we were filming. We were sat around talking and everyone went quiet. I turned around and Winnie-the-Pooh was there. It was equal parts hilarious and terrifying.”
With a knowing smile, she exclusively told Express.co.uk: “Having Winnie-the-Pooh running around on a murderous rampage with a sledgehammer… it just works. It’s such a cool concept. When I first saw the Winnie-the-Pooh costume I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.”
Doig-Thorne has an infectious energy. She came across as an incredibly intelligent person (she has a degree in theoretical physics from University College London, after all), she obviously loves being in front of the camera, and she knows the score when it comes to independent horror movies.
That shouldn’t be a surprise, however, considering she has starred in upwards of 20 British indie slasher flicks. And Doig-Thorne isn’t afraid to put in the work, either.
“The filming process itself was super intense,” she explained, detailing the eight-day passion-filled shoot. And there was no time to spare once cameras were rolling; many of the film’s scenes were finished after “one-or-two takes”. Doig-Thorne wouldn’t complain, though. The actress, a self-confessed “adrenaline junkie” and “horror lover”, noted how one bloody scene had her “tied up for nine hours”, as she praised the number of special effects that were practical (combined with some camera “trickery” here and there, of course).
This authentic look is probably what helped the film garner such a cult following, though (on top of the, um, odd concept).
Since then, the picture has become its own version of a fairy tale. After Blood and Honey was released, it has been featured at film festivals around the world, hit cinemas across continents, and earned a unique reputation for itself (for better or for worse).
Now the effervescent actress’ time with Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey has come to an end, Doig-Thorne revealed she is excited to work on other independent horror movies in the near future. After collaborating with the film’s production company, Jagged Edge Productions, on seven features, she’s excited about what the future holds, and where her career will go next.
Doig-Thorne added that, across the actors’ eight-day shoot and two-day reshoots, they were paid “an equivalent of £20 a day”. The star has also been paying to attend various film premieres and festivals around the world.
At the time of writing, Box Office Mojo reports Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey has taken home $4.8 million at the box office.
Director Frake-Waterfield told Express.co.uk the “£20 a day” claim was “not true”. He also said “you can see some rates [of pay] being offered” for his next film, Bambi: The Reckoning, on the casting website Spotlight. Frake-Waterfield added: “The premieres/screenings/events are all optional, no one is required to pay anything or go anywhere.”
Despite Doig-Thorne’s issues, she stressed: “But I’ve absolutely loved everyone I’ve ever worked with. [Jagged Edge Productions] have got loads of really cool ideas,” while adding she is “excited” to see the company’s upcoming horror adaptations of other childhood stories (such as Bambi & Peter Pan: Neverland Nightmare).
Doig-Thorne lit up when talking about her desires for the future. She wants to expand her career into all sorts of genres – particularly into action movies (“I love Jason Statham! I’d love to be the female Tom Cruise!”). But before that, she has three film projects lined up. The Baby in the Basket, a horror picture; Mr Hyde: The Untold Story, a retelling of the classic Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde epic; and Dying Breed, a “Viking tale based on Ukraine‘s true history”.
If any of these do half as well at the box office as Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey did at the box office, her career is sure to go from strength to strength.
Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey is out now on DVD, Blu-ray and digital.