It’s a Wonderful Knife 2023 Movie Review
While it’s no secret that I love a good fright flick, I don’t talk nearly as much about a certain type of holiday film. Honestly, when it comes to a Christmas movie, I’m not huge on them. Some, whether it’s Love. Actually or Die Hard (yes, it counts), shine through, but the old standbys don’t do a ton for me. So, while a horror take on It’s a Wonderful Life intrigued me, my indifference to the latter kept me from being as pumped as I normally would be for a Michael Kennedy script (Freaky is amazing, simply put). Silly me, as It’s a Wonderful Knife is a clever and fun take on the tale, clearly homaging with affection, while spilling more than its fair share of blood. In terms of hybrids, this is a cut above.
It’s a Wonderful Knife works as a Christmas movie, to be sure, as long as gore doesn’t bug you. As for horror fans, they’re bound to be tickled by this violent take on the story. The film doesn’t take itself seriously, but it does opt to take the homaging seriously, which is a nice choice. It makes both sides of the coin feel equal to each other, raising both sides up in concert.
It’s Christmas Eve in the town of Angel Falls, a place that loves the holiday. Teen Winnie Carruthers (Jane Widdop) is set to celebrate with her parents David (Joel McHale) and Judy (Erin Boyes), as well as her brother Jimmy (Aiden Howard), when duty calls for her dad. He works for the town’s mayor, Henry Waters (Justin Long), who seeks to develop over some land a resident is holding out on. They leave to work, while Winnie and Jimmy go to a party. There, they’re attacked, along with their friends, by a masked killer. Winnie’s best friend Cara (Hana Huggins) is murdered, but Winnie saves Jimmy by killing the fiend, revealed to be Mayor Waters. A year later, she’s not dealing with it well, even as everyone else is trying to move on. During a rough night, she wishes on some lights in the sky, and boom, she’s never been born.
Realizing what’s happened, Winnie is puzzled, though it becomes all the more serious when the killer shows up. Winnie’s changed the past, so the killer not just is still around, but he murdered Jimmy. Without any friends or family, she’s able to convince the school outcast Bernie (Jess McLeod) to help her. Time is running out, however. Not only does she need to stop the murders, she needs to figure out how to get home before the lights disappear, trapping her in this reality forever.
The cast definitely knows the movie that they’re in, which is always a plus with horror. Justin Long especially is hamming it up perfectly, while Jane Widdop is a strong horror heroine. Her lighter scenes with Jess McLeod, in particular, are lovely. Joel McHale is a bit one-note, but he has the seriousness needed for the role. Supporting players here include the aforementioned Erin Boyes, Aiden Howard, and Hana Huggins, alongside Sean Depner, Cassandra Naud, and more.
Director Tyler MacIntyre takes the screenplay by Michael Kennedy and executes it very efficiently. While there’s a little more creativity, both visually and plot-wise, to Freaky, It’s a Wonderful Knife is still very successful. The care that Kennedy and MacIntyre show in honoring the Christmas elements is apparent, so even if the slasher elements are a bit standard issue, they’re elevated by the genre mashup on the whole.
It’s a Wonderful Knife could well become a cult classic for multiple holidays, with both Christmas and Halloween potentially staking a claim to it. I’m eager to see more high concept screenplays from Kennedy, especially if they’re as much fun as these past two have been. If you like your horror to be fun, this is one to seek out, especially if you’re getting into a holiday mood!