It’s a Wonderful Knife Review: Bah Humbug

It's a Wonderful Knife (2023).
It’s a Wonderful Knife, directed by Tyler MacIntyre and written by Michael Kennedy, attempts to capitalize on the nostalgic resonance of Frank Capra‘s heartwarming holiday classic It’s a Wonderful Life. Yet this attempt proves only to be a seasonal massacre of the film’s time-tested sincerity. An underbaked amalgamation of slasher thrills and Christmas spirit, it wields a blunter edge than expected.
It's a Wonderful Knife (2023).
The premise, on paper, promises a much darker version of Capra’s tale, only it barely maintains the slasher comedy tone. Jane Widdop stars as Winnie Carruthers. Jane is a teenager plagued by survivor’s guilt following the mass killing in her small town by a costumed murderer, The Angel. On Christmas Eve, in a bizarre, twisted echo of It’s a Wonderful Life, she wishes she’d never been born – and the film dives headlong into a warped alternative reality.
Despite an engaging premise and an above-average ensemble cast, It’s a Wonderful Knife never reaches the razor-sharp hilarity and ingenious thrills promised. At times, the screenplay falters and scenes dawdle, weighed down by an over-explanatory dialogue. Winnie’s earnest musings come off as overzealous in comparison to George Bailey’s wistful self-discoveries. As her character is chased through the snow-dusted town of Angel Falls by a serial killer, we find it difficult to root for her because she seems determined to follow an invisible script of slasher clichés. Even when the film touches upon grief, it does so in the most laughably gruesome manner.
The film aims for edgy, utilizing splatter effects to ludicrous extremes that range from moderately amusing to outright distasteful. Rather than weaving horror into comedy, It’s a Wonderful Knife treats both elements as opposing sides in an identity crisis. It throws around plot developments in a scramble to remain thrilling or humorous.
The script, which careens from yuletide humor to grisly killings, appears divided. The story flows between poking fun at the hallmarks of its own genres and offering legitimate plot development. This discord in tone often leaves the audience reeling in an inappropriately lighthearted manner from what should be profoundly disturbing scenes of murder and bloodshed.
In contrast to the oddly executed humor, the horror aspects of It’s a Wonderful Knife tend to be jarringly grim. This removes any satirical aspect that could have lightened the mood and complemented the supposed comedy. Even Justin Long as the creepy Mayor Waters can’t elevate this would-be horror-comedy past its schlocky indulgence.
Performances throughout the cast are largely dependable but unfortunately shackled by the screenplay’s pitfalls. Widdop is admirable and injects some depth into Winnie, but the delivery is inconsistent due to the story.
Joel McHale and Jess McLeod do their best, yet Katharine Isabelle’s character Gale Prescott provides stereotypical teenager fodder. The most exciting character ends up being The Angel, which sums up this film in a nutshell.
While It’s a Wonderful Knife could have cleverly parodied Christmas classics while offering thrilling cheer, it opts for messiness. By going too broad and only superficially referencing its supposed inspiration, this holiday horror-comedy only succeeds in undermining its ambitions.
Though armed with potential, the film misfires more than it hits its target. It feels less like an entertaining hybrid of disparate genres and more like a wayward patchwork. Its not-so-wonderful muddling of themes results in a mess of what could have been an amusing film. An ironically titled misfire, It’s a Wonderful Knife seems poised to sink beneath the ice of more solidly constructed Christmas slashers.
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  • Acting - 6.5/10
  • Cinematography/Visual Effects - 6.5/10
  • Plot/Screenplay - 4/10
  • Setting/Theme - 5/10
  • Watchability - 5/10
  • Rewatchability - 3/10
User Review
3 (1 vote)

About Caillou Pettis

Caillou Pettis is a professional film critic and journalist as well as the author of While You Sleep, The Inspiring World of Horror: The Movies That Influenced Generations, and co-author of Out of Time: True Paranormal Encounters. He has been writing in the entertainment industry for over seven and a half years professionally. Throughout the years, he has written articles for publications including Gold Derby, Exclaim!, CBR, Awards Radar, Awards Watch, Flickering Myth, BRWC, Starburst Magazine, Punch Drunk Critics, Mediaversity Reviews, Vinyl Chapters, Northern Transmissions, and Beats Per Minute.