It’s a Wonderful Knife
Winnie Carruthers (young Bridget Fonda lookalike Jane Widdop, TV's 'Yellowjackets') is taken aback when she learns her dad’s boss, developer Henry Waters (Justin Long, "Barbarian"), hopes to knock down the home of Roger Evans (William B. Davis, 'The X-files'' Cigarette Smoking Man), an Angel Falls historical landmark, in order to build retail conglomerate Waters’ Cove. On that very night, Christmas Eve, Roger is killed by the ‘Angel,’ a white-masked killer in a white hooded robe. Then Winnie’s best friend Cara (Hana Huggins), Roger’s granddaughter, is stabbed to death in full view of holiday revelers and when Winnie runs out to help, she ends up saving the life of her brother Jimmy (Aiden Howard) and unmasking the killer – Henry Waters. But one year later, Winnie’s so down in the dumps she wishes she’d never been born, and so she gets to see just what happens to Angel Falls without her in “It’s a Wonderful Knife.”
Laura's Review: C
Director Tyler MacIntyre ("Tragedy Girls") and writer Michael Kennedy’s ("Freaky") film is being tagged as “It’s a Wonderful Life” by way of “Scream” and that’s pretty accurate, if you add in a dollop of “A Christmas Carol.” The main pleasures to be found here are in the relationship between Winnie and Bernie Simon (Jess McLeod), a local outcast the entire town calls Weirdo for no apparent reason, and in the design of the ‘Angel,’ whose creepy, glossy, smooth white face mask and flowing robes suggest Ghostface by way of the Ghost of Christmas Past. The film’s ‘big’ names, Joel McHale (TV's 'Community') as Winnie’s dad David and Long, so deliciously awful in “Barbarian,” offer little here, McHale going through the motions and the amusingly artificially tanned Long tossing off one note venality. Katharine Isabelle ("Ginger Snaps") offers a lot more personality as Winnie’s Aunt Gale.
One year after she slayed Waters, the Carruthers are now the prominent realtors in town, but Winnie’s just been notified she hasn’t gotten into NYU, her parents have given her a pink leisure suit while her brother Jimmy’s been gifted a new truck and she’s horrified that no one seems to be grieving the losses of the year before. When she looks for her boyfriend, Robbie (Jason Fernandes), at the same party that was the site of mayhem the year before, Bernie tells her he’s outside but another points her toward the laundry room, where she finds him making out with Darla (Zenia Marshall) because apparently, Winnie’s just no fun anymore. Outside she makes her wish and when she turns around Angel Falls has been transformed, family businesses gone, Water’s name on everything, his dimwitted brother Buck (Sean Depner) now the Chief of Police ineffectively responding to the 26th Angel killing of the year. No one knows who she is, her mother Judy’s (Erin Boyes, "Married Life") turned to drink and side pieces and her dad orders her out of the house when she tells him who the killer is, not willing to believe that his ‘best friend’ Henry killed their one and only child, Jimmy.
After convincing Bernie she’s not the killer, she finds an ally in the lonely girl who works at the local cinema and convinces her she must reverse the spell by killing the Angel again, but just like in the original “Scream,” there’s now a second killer and his identify is a doozy.
Widdop and McLeod have lovely chemistry here and if you’re hoping their friendship turns romantic, you’d be in luck, Winnie finding Robbie and Darla’s longer relationship in her absence the right match. The filmmakers steal a number of ideas from other films, like the Angel attacking in the darkened theater as Winnie’s camera flash gives us momentary glimpses, that work, but they’ve gone a bit far with the decline of her family, her mother’s degradation off putting. There’s also a character, Karen Simmons (Cassandra Naud, "Influencer"), who’s always around but barely registers and while the film ends on the right note, Winnie takes an awfully long time to remember her soul mate on Christmas morning.
“It’s a Wonderful Knife” is an okay holiday horror, but you might be better served seeking out 2017’s “Better Watch Out” for your Christmas “Scream” crossover.
Robin's Review: C
RLJE/Shudder releases "It's a Wonderful Knife" in theaters on 11/10/23.