Frank Capra’s 1946 holiday classic It’s a Wonderful Life gets a Slasher Comedy remake in Tyler MacIntyre’s (Tragedy Girls 2017, V/H/S/99 2022) It’s a Wonderful Knife. Making its way to On Demand and streaming on Shudder as of December 1, 2023, the new film works from a script by Michael Kennedy (who also wrote 2020’s Freaky) and it is set in the picturesque mountain town of Angel Falls.
As the film opens, egotistical real estate agent Henry Waters (Justin Long: Drag Me to Hell 2009, Barbarian 2022) is seeking to obtain a patch of land from the town’s patriarch that will allow him to finally build a retail outlet titled ‘Waters Cover.’ However, Waters is refused his bid and soon after a masked killer, dressed as a white angel, arrives and kills the town’s patriarch and his family. The killer continues to wreak havoc until resourceful teenager Winnie Carruthers (Jane Widdop: Jessica Darling’s It List 2016, Angie: Lost Girls 2020) electrocutes him and that’s that. Or is it?
Of course it’s not, that would be far too simple, and after struggling to come to terms with everything that transpired with the killer, Winnie makes a wish on the Aurora Borealis that
she was never born. This fateful wish restores the killer angel to life and once again Winnie is forced to try and save Angel Falls, but this time it might not prove to be so easy.
Overall, It’s a Wonderful Knife has a great setup with a premise that feels familiar enough to audiences that they are able to settle straight into the film. Winnie is both flawed and highly capable which makes her a really likeable protagonist and the audience feels that they want to root for her. Yet in spite of a great first act and a relatable lead character, It’s a Wonderful Knife struggles to keep up its momentum.
There is a feeling throughout that this would have made an awesome episode of a tv show but as a feature length film, it doesn’t feel as though there is quite enough fuel in the tank. This may be because It’s a Wonderful Knife is trying to balance both comedy and horror, as well as romantic and supernatural elements. The world building is hinted at but not fully explored, the supporting characters have potential but little to do.
In the end, Widdop’s performance is very engaging, Long is fun as a caricature character and the killer’s costume is fun. It’s a Wonderful Knife had all the right ingredients, but just needed something else to fulfill its promise. This is a diverting enough genre exercise, however, it is unlikely to become a holiday staple that merits a rewatch every Christmas. Nonetheless, it is worth checking out for an evening with some popcorn by the fire, and that is why Cryptic Rock gives It’s a Wonderful Knife 3 out of 5 stars.