It’s A Wonderful Knife Review

It's A Wonderful Knife
A year after halting a masked serial killer’s rampage in the town of Angel Falls, youngster Winnie (Jane Widdop) is still reeling from the grief of losing her best friend in the attacks. She makes a wish that she’d never been born — and ends up in a world where the killings never stopped. 

by Ben Travis |
Published on
Original Title:

It’s A Wonderful Knife

If every time someone was violently stabbed to death in Tyler MacIntyre and Michael Kennedy’s Christmas slasher mash-up, an angel got its wings… well, there’d be a sizeable heavenly host ready to herald the film’s arrival on Shudder. As its ingenious title suggests, It’s A Wonderful Knife is a slice-and-dice take on the Frank Capra classic, somehow managing to successfully transpose that film’s combination of festive feel-good message (people are nice, actually!) and feel-bad themes (life can be the worst, actually!) into the shape of a snow-bound serial-killer whodunnit.

It's A Wonderful Knife

The idea is strong (Kennedy notably also penned the high-concept body-swapping slasher Freaky), and if there are quibbles in the execution, the results are bloody fun. Jane Widdop is engaging as plucky final girl Winnie — who has to deal with the aftermath of being a final girl, having ended a white-masked murderer’s spree in the town of Angel Falls and saved her brother Jimmy (Aiden Howard), but lost her best friend Cara (Hana Huggins) in the process. One year later, it feels like the rest of the town has moved on. Alone and still deep in her grief, Winnie wishes she’d never existed. Before you can say, “Merry Christmas, you wonderful old Building And Loan,” she finds herself in a nightmarish alternate reality where that’s exactly the case — nobody knows who she is, the killer is still on the loose, and the town has fallen apart in her absence. Cue a mission to stop the killer all over again, and get her life back.

As with the film it's riffing on, it's the sweetness that shines through all the darkness.

While the first act of It’s A Wonderful Knife struggles under the vast amount of heavy lifting required of it — establishing Winnie’s entire family dynamic, the prominence of Justin Long’s cartoonishly awful Mayor Henry Waters (on goofily entertaining form here), delivering an entire slasher movie arc in miniature, and getting us to Winnie’s existential wish — it’s much lighter on its feet when the plot really kicks in. Angel Falls’ alternate timeline is a macabre mix of mean townsfolk, hellish hedonism, and frankly dysfunctional family dynamics: the perfect playground for Winnie to face her worst fears. And with the killer — strikingly designed, with flowing, angelic robes and a blank mask contoured to give the impression of a ghostly visage — still at large and spilling blood at regular intervals, the horror set-pieces are well-directed, rarely inventive but confidently staged.

As with the film it’s riffing on, it’s the sweetness that shines through all the darkness. In her new reality, Winnie finds an ally in Bernie (Jess McLeod), a girl the town has not-so-lovingly dubbed ‘Weirdo’ — and their budding romance as the story goes on is genuinely heartwarming. “We’ve only just met, but I have no doubt, the town is better with you in it,” she tells Winnie as the pair hide out in — where else? — a cinema.

While the kills and feels are well-handled, It’s A Wonderful Knife is less confident elsewhere. Its production values often betray its low budget, and, clocking in at well under 90 minutes, there are story devices and narrative turns as it barrels on that feel abrupt. But this is a fun, festive, occasionally frightening addition to the budding ‘slash-up’ genre. Here’s hoping the alternate-universe cinema marquee boasting screenings of ‘I Know What You Did Last Christmas’ is a hint of more to come.

Sometimes cheap but largely cheerful, this is a fun stocking-filler for horror fans — with plenty of heart to pump all that blood.
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