‘It’s A Wonderful Knife’ Review – Yuletide Killings At Blank Face Value

The Angel killer in It's a Wonderful Knife (2023), RLJE Films

Set in the fictional town of Angel Falls, Winnie Carruthers (Jane Widdop) saves her hometown from a serial killer dressed as a white Christmas angel. One year later, Winnie’s life only seems to be getting worse. The killer murdered her best friend, she didn’t get into NYU, and she found her boyfriend cheating with another one of her friends.

During an unorthodox viewing of Aurora Borealis, Winnie wishes that she was never born. Now she finds herself in a world where she never existed while the angel killer is still at large and his victim count nearing 30 people.

Mayor Henry Waters (Justin Long) and WInnie Carruthers (Jane Widdop) in the horror comedy It's a Wonderful Knife. 

Image courtesy of RLJE Films and Shudder.
Mayor Henry Waters (Justin Long) and Winnie Carruthers (Jane Widdop) in the horror comedy It’s a Wonderful Knife.
Image courtesy of RLJE Films and Shudder.

Directed by Tyler MacIntyre (writer/director of Tragedy Girls, co-writer of Five Nights at Freddy’s) and written by Michael Kennedy (Freaky), It’s a Wonderful Knife is an unusual horror comedy that thrives on being set in an alternate universe.

A traditional slasher film is presented and wrapped up within the first 15 minutes of the film before the introduction of the title card. There’s a basic storyline: the killer is introduced and gets a handful of kills, and that killer is thwarted and unmasked by a female survivor.

The costume and killer are the aspects that have likely drawn you to the film. The angel killer wears an all-white hooded cloak and an expressionless blank white mask. The film draws a lot of comparisons to Scream, but the angel killer is visually the color opposite of Ghostface. Physically speaking, black is the absence of color, whereas white is the presence of all colors.

Justin Long shows up in a film every year as a character that completely redefines his diverse performance spectrum. Long plays Mayor Henry Waters in It’s a Wonderful Knife, and everything about the character is fake: his personality, his morality, his teeth, his tan, and his bouffant hair. He is pretending to be this savior type of spokesman for the townspeople.

The angel killer from the horror comedy It's a Wonderful Knife. 

Image courtesy of RLJE Films and Shudder.
The angel killer from the horror comedy It’s a Wonderful Knife. Image courtesy of RLJE Films and Shudder.

Between the killings, It’s a Wonderful Knife has a Christmas Hallmark movie meets She’s All That storyline. The film capitalizes on those corny romantic comedies from the ’90s where a misunderstood weird kid or nerd turns out to be pretty cool.

Bernie Simon (Jess McLeod), for example, is known as weirdo to everyone at school because she’s socially awkward and not like anyone else. When finally given a chance, she is incredibly talented and essential to Winnie’s return home and the catalyst for overcoming her yearlong grief.

Bernie (Jess McLeod) and Winnie (Jane Widdop) in the horror comedy It's a Wonderful Knife. 

Image courtesy of RLJE Films and Shudder.
Bernie (Jess McLeod) and Winnie (Jane Widdop) in the horror comedy It’s a Wonderful Knife. Image courtesy of RLJE Films and Shudder.

With so many films and TV series coming out in recent years revolving around the multiverse, it’s intriguing to see a horror film focus on only one throughout its entirety. While the film borrows heavily from the 1946 classic It’s a Wonderful Life in a not-so-subtle way, this Winnie-less world has bizarre alternatives that are mostly slightly different, while some aspects are a drastic transition.

Without trying to spoil too much, Waters now owns the entire town, his brother is the town sheriff, Winnie’s brother is a victim of the angel killer, and people are suddenly smoking crack instead of eating weed-laced gummy bears. 

(From L to R) The Carruthers family: Winnie's brother Jimmy (Aiden Howard), their father David (Joel McHale), and mother Judy (Erin Boyes). 

Image property of RLJE Films and Shudder.
(From L to R) The Carruthers family: Winnie’s brother Jimmy (Aiden Howard), their father David (Joel McHale), and mother Judy (Erin Boyes). Image property of RLJE Films and Shudder.

Winnie’s acceptance of what has transpired takes far too much convincing. You’d think that seeing the angel killer alive and still killing or visiting her family, where her father tells her point blank that he no longer has any children since the murder of his only child, would be enough for her to grasp the situation.

But Winnie has to go to a party where every person there says she doesn’t know her, and it doesn’t set in until she finds a yearbook and sees that her picture isn’t a part of the 2022-2023 class.

Hanna Huggins as Cara Evans in the horror comedy It's a Wonderful Knife.

Image property of RLJE Films and Shudder.
Hanna Huggins as Cara Evans in the horror comedy It’s a Wonderful Knife. Image property of RLJE Films and Shudder.

Bernie’s storyline is the most exciting aspect of It’s a Wonderful Knife. Her concept begins as a stereotype and slowly evolves into this unique method of overcoming grief for a newfound friend and herself. Writer Michael Kennedy is very much about queer representation, and It’s a Wonderful Knife is no different.

Thankfully, it isn’t obnoxious or something thrown in for no reason like films can sometimes do. It’s a tender and heartfelt development for the film that mostly feels like a refreshing do-over for those involved.

Mayor Henry Waters (Justin Long) is reluctantly greeted by the Carruthers family during the holidays in the horror comedy It's a Wonderful Knife.

Image property of RLJE Films and Shudder.
Mayor Henry Waters (Justin Long) is reluctantly greeted by the Carruthers family during the holidays in the horror comedy It’s a Wonderful Knife.
Image property of RLJE Films and Shudder.

Maybe it’s because Freaky was so fun the first time or that It’s a Wonderful Knife feels so familiar (Amazon’s Totally Killer is similar in concept and came out on Prime some weeks ago). Still, the final product needs to measure up to an entertaining concept.

The design of the killer is fantastic, Justin Long shines as a spray-tanned turd, and the storyline has at least one solid detour. The biggest letdown is that It’s a Wonderful Knife has no memorable kills, and any big reveal is nothing short of apparent. While it’s a decent way to kill an hour and a half, it will likely be a fun but forgettable holiday slasher.

NEXT: ‘Five Nights At Freddy’s’ Review – Intricate Animatronics Dominate Diluted Horror

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