Capsule Review: It’s a Wonderful Knife (2023)

I’m surprised it took this long for the filmmaker to come up with the cheeky title of It’s a Wonderful Knife. It sure has a nice ring to it that turns the 1946 black-and-white holiday classic, It’s a Wonderful Life starring Cary Grant into a slasher comedy.

Written by Freaky‘s Michael Kennedy, the movie opens promisingly with Winnie Carruthers (Jane Widdop), a teenage blonde girl who unwittingly saves the small town of Angel Falls after a vicious white-masked and robe-wearing killer murders several victims. The first 15 minutes or so effectively set the slasher-movie tone, complete with plenty of kills that director Tyler MacIntrye doesn’t shy away from depicting the graphic brutality of the killer stabbing the victims with a knife.

The incident, of course, scarred Winnie for good that even one year later, she can’t seem to shake off her PTSD. But her family, namely her dad David (Joel McHale) has already moved on since then. She feels isolated since no one in her life cares, let alone talk about what happened in the last year’s ill-fated night on Christmas Eve. One night while at the town bridge witnessing an aurora, she wishes that she never existed.

And guess what? Her wish is somehow granted. She finds out she’s in an alternate reality where no one in Angel Falls knows her at all. Not even her own family as she becomes a total stranger but that isn’t the worst thing compared to the killer, who was supposed to be dead happens to be alive.

With the killer still on the loose, she is determined to save the victims from getting, well, killed again.

Using Frank Capra’s 1946 classic is an ingenious move to give this otherwise oft-seen slasher genre a much-needed fresh angle. MacIntrye even goes as far as name-dropping “George Bailey” and “Clarence” in some of the dialogues. It’s a Wonderful Knife is also blessed with a game cast led by Jane Widdop as Winnie Carruthers while Jess McLeod excels as the town’s outcast, Bernie a.k.a. Weirdo. They share good chemistry as an unlikely duo partnered together to save the town from the killer. This is especially true during a scene where they enjoy each other’s company watching an old movie in a movie theatre.

Then, there’s Justin Long, who steals the show every time he appears in a scene. He plays a sleazy town mayor with ulterior motives and while streaming the movie, I realise his voice sounds different for a change. I admit it took me some time to get used to it and his unusual voice somehow works that fits the sneaky personality of his character.

But despite the movie clocking at just 87 minutes long, It’s a Wonderful Knife runs out of steam before it even reaches the finale. Certain scenes tend to sag with the characters seemingly going around in circles. The underwhelming third act doesn’t help either and not to mention some other scenes are needlessly protracted, making me wonder whether the movie lacks solid material to sustain the duration in the first place.

It’s a Wonderful Knife is currently streaming on Shudder.