"It's a Wonderful Knife" cleverly spins Christmas staple into a festive slasher

It’s a Wonderful Knife (2023)

There’s been a recent trend of high-concept slashers made out of tried-and-true gimmicks, whether it’s a time-loop, body-swapping, or time-travel. “Happy Death Day” cleverly put a macabre twist on “Groundhog Day,” “Freaky” came out of “Freaky Friday,” and last month’s “Totally Killer” played with the past and future like “Back to the Future.” Now, “It’s a Wonderful Knife” is a pretty irresistible slasher spin on, well, you know — Frank Capra’s wonderful Christmas staple about one George Bailey living in a parallel reality. So, this time, every time a bell rings, a killer dressed as an angel gets their kill on. 

It’s Christmas Eve in the angelic town of Angel Falls. Goody-two shoes Winnie Carruthers (Jane Widdop) is just about to celebrate with her parents (Joel McHale and Erin Boyes) and gay jock brother Jimmy (Aiden Howard) when Dad is recruited to push a land-development project forward for his boss, Mayor Henry Waters (Justin Long, in a spray tan with pearly-white choppers). While Winnie goes off to a party with Jimmy and friends, they get attacked by an Angel-dressed killer. Winnie’s best friend Cara (Hana Huggins) gets slashed to death, but Winnie ends the rampage. A year later, with the community allegedly renewed and stronger than ever, Winnie’s life is no longer going as planned. Besides her best friend being murdered, she doesn’t get into the photography program at NYU, her boyfriend has been cheating on her, and her parents seem to favorite her brother. Standing under an aurora, Winnie wishes she was never born. Well, her wish is granted, and it’s like Winnie never existed and the “Angel” killer is very consistent, killing every few weeks. Can Winnie stop the murders and get back to her original reality?

Pairing director Tyler MacIntyre (2017’s wickedly clever “Tragedy Girls”) with “Freaky” screenwriter Michael Kennedy makes total sense here. Blending very similar sensibilities when it comes to meshing humor with a slasher concept, “It’s a Wonderful Knife” does not shy away from the blood-red corn syrup. It also doesn’t hold back on the syrupy sentimentality of small-town Hallmark Christmas movies with a beautiful gay relationship at its core. Read the full review at GuyAtTheMovies.com

Grade: B -

RLJE Films and Shudder are releasing “It’s a Wonderful Knife” (87 min.) in theaters on November 10, 2023.