Film Review: It’s A Wonderful Knife
It’s A Wonderful Knife
Director: Tyler MacIntyre
Divide/Conquer and Fourth Culture Films
In Theaters: 11.10
For the most part, slasher movies and Christmas movies have one big thing in common—either you can’t get enough of them or you can’t stand them. It’s A Wonderful Knife blends the tropes of both into a silly and entertaining film that may appeal to both audiences.
It’s Christmas Eve in the small town of Angel Falls and popular High School senior Winnie Carruthers (Jane Widdop, Yellowjackets) is enjoying the festivities, at least, until a deranged serial killer dressed as an angel wreaks havoc throughout the town. When the killer goes after Winnie’s brother, Jimmy (Aiden Howard, Goosebumps), she steps in and kills the predator, saving Jimmy and the town. A year passes, and everyone has moved on except for Winnie, who is still haunted by that horrible night, and she feels completely alone. That’s when Winnie makes a wish that she had never been born—and her wish is unexpectedly granted. Winnie suddenly finds herself in a parallel version of Angel Falls where she doesn’t exist, quickly realizing that her absence means the killer is still out there, racking up a body count with no one to stop him. Winnie finds an unexpected ally in the town misfit, Bernie Simon (Jessica McLeod, The Unforgivable), and together they must race against time to stop the killer and send Winnie back to her own reality.
While It’s A Wonderful Knife belongs to both the horror and holiday genres, it is first and foremost a comedy. The film benefits from not taking itself too seriously. Screenwriter Michael Kennedy (Freaky) seems to be trying to make a niche for himself out of inserting a serial killer into beloved family films, and so far, it’s working. The mixture of macabre, crass and schmaltzy simply shouldn’t work as well as it does, yet Director Tyler MacIntyre (Tragedy Girls) stays firmly committed to the off-the-wall premise. When it does occasionally falter, the appealing cast quickly gets it back on track. The violence and gore don’t push any boundaries for horror fans, though there are some effective jumpscares as well as some solidly gruesome sight gags. And for the holiday movie crowd, there are winking references to A Christmas Story and other yuletide favorites that are cute and clever without feeling forced.
Widdop is endearing in the lead role, making the spunky and resourceful Winnie easy to root for. McLeod is delightful as Bernie, who is known to most of the town only as “Weirdo,” and not affectionately. The character dynamic of the popular blond girl and the lanky outcast teaming up to fight evil is irresistible, and we grow to care a good deal about both of these characters as they grow to care about each other. Justin Long (Dodgeball, Live Free or Die Hard) plays Henry Waters, the privileged golden boy who has inherited most of the business interests in Angel Falls and wants to control everything. Long—sporting big, fake teeth and an even bigger personality—teeters on the edge of being too over-the-top, and most of the time it works. Joel McHale (Community), who tends to work best when playing smug and sarcastic characters, feels a bit out of place as Winnie’s father, David Carruthers, and I found his presence to be a bit distracting. Thankfully, he brings enough depth to a couple of the more dramatic sequences to make it a workable performance.
It’s A Wonderful Knife isn’t for everyone, and it’s something of a guilty pleasure for me. Though, it’s a pleasure enough that I’ve already seen it twice. If you’re looking for a horror film with some actual entertainment value, this is a big step up from the abysmal Five Nights at Freddy’s on every level. I’ll admit that I’m a sucker for the season, and that certainly helped my enjoyment. If you’re looking to add a bit of an edge to your holiday viewing, It’s A Wonderful Knife might be just the gift you didn’t even know you needed this year. –Patrick Gibbs