It’s Christmas Eve in the small town of Angel Falls. Winnie’s (Jane Widdop) Christmas holidays are less than pleasing. The city is dramatically changing due to the town’s mayor, Henry Waters (Justin Long), who is continually forcing people out of their homes due to upcoming developments and building structures. Winnie disagrees with the mayor’s choices but is conflicted as her father, David (Joel McHale), works closely with the mayor. Atop this, a mysterious killer is lurking around the community, and various murders are being conducted. Winnie is fortunate enough to stop the killer and learn their identity. While Winnie’s actions should have ideally made everything better for her and those around her, things worsen.
We next see the community a year after Winnie stopped the horrible killings, and many have been affected by Winnie’s actions. When her family hands out gifts around Christmas, Winnie becomes even more frustrated at how she is treated and walks away. Staring in the night sky, she speaks out loud and wishes she had never been born. The moment the words are spoken, she somehow suddenly finds herself in a whole new universe where she never existed, just as she wished in a moment of frustration. Now, Winnie is all alone in a world where no one knows her, and on top of it, a killer once again emerges because, in this universe, Winnie never existed to unmask and stop the killer. Now, many lives are in grave danger, and Winnie must find a way to stop the killer once again and return to life as it was before it’s too late.
It’s a Wonderful Knife is best described as a horror comedy and was directed by Tyler MacIntyre, who is best known for work as the writer for Freaky (2020). Naturally, given the title, the film also carries a similar concept to It’s a Wonderful Life (1946). As a comedy, there are plenty of film references and easter eggs specifically for fans of the horror genre. But as a horror, It’s a Wonderful Knife doesn’t offer much freshness- a mysterious killer roaming around in a strange costume is familiar territory. Those who love violent killing might be disappointed, as the gruesome kills are not always shown on screen.
The costume and general look of the mysterious killer are excellent. Wearing an outfit like a white snow angel typically found on top of a Christmas tree with an angel-branded knife is a terrific concept. Another great concept is the two worlds in the film. When Winnie finds herself in a world where she doesn’t exist, a new mystery is introduced, including the obvious question: Is the killer the same as in the other world? However, most of the twists and reveals are highly predictable and obvious. While the town of Angel Falls is exciting and looks great, the many characters we follow throughout the film are poorly introduced, including our leading heroine. If you are going to try to understand how everything works by the end of this film, you may end up with a headache. Not everything makes sense, and the story seems unsure of itself, including what the rules are. The finale is a major disappointment, even more so when it introduces a second climax and an additional storyline that lacks any hype or excitement.
Overall, with a fantastic title for a Christmas horror comedy film, it’s great to see such an exciting concept and mysterious new killer on-screen. The general look of the town and the new world that our lead enters is fun and weird, and horror buffs will enjoy the many horror-related easter eggs and references made throughout. However, the film struggles to give any character here a proper introduction and a general reason for the audience to care and be invested. Some kills are okay, but some of the more gruesome deaths occur off-screen. Twists and reveals are consistently evident and predictable, lacking hype and excitement. The plot’s rules, laws, and finale are unclear and nearly impossible to understand and process. In the end, viewers are forced to accept all of it, no matter how silly some aspects are, and I was left wishing this was done a whole lot better.
It’s a Wonderful Knife (2023) is Available on Shudder from December 1st