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I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

It’s a Wonderful Knife (2023)

Continuing with some holiday horror I thought I’d check out this flick that just dropped on Shudder. I mean it has a catchy name and some familiar faces so why not? I mean I’m sure it is all gimmick and not very good… but then again, I could be wrong. 

We meet the members of a couple of families the Waters, and the Carruthers. Henry Waters, played by Justin Long (one of those familiar faces), is the mayor of Angle Falls and is a bit of a sleaze bag. No spoilers there as he is clearly trying to muscle in on the family-owned business’s downtown to remake Angel Falls into his own vision. The Carruthers are led by dad David, mom Judy and siblings Winnie and Jimmy. Well on Christmas a crazed killer wearing an angel costume murders and elderly man and then goes after Winnie and her friends. Though she manages to stop the murderer and reveal he was Henry, who clearly had a screw loose. But not before her best friend Cara dies. 

Now here is where the take on another famous holiday movie comes into play. A year later everyone but Winnie has moved on. She however isn’t in the mood for the holidays and after a big blow up with her family wishes she was never born. See what they did there? Any who without her stopping the killer due to never existing the town of Angel Falls has gone right to hell. The murders have hit twenty-six or twenty-seven (the characters can’t decide…) and Mayor Waters has taken control of the downtown. 

Since we already know who the killer is they just explain that he was targeting families who had property or businesses that he wanted to take. So it was all about money at least at first. Along the way she befriends the weird girl Bernie, finds out a secret about her boyfriend, and generally learns to appreciate her life, despite the murders. There are a few twists that I didn’t see coming before we get the happy ending with Winnie reuniting with her family in a world where she was born. I mean it is still a year later and a bunch of folks are dead… Merry Christmas?

Okay I know that I sounded a bit snarky in my plot synopsis. It may have also been a bit vague on details but that is because I really liked It’s a Wonderful Knife and don’t want to spoil it. The story is surprisingly sweet for having a body count of ten! Sure there are some brutal deaths, but we also get valuable life lessons in between the murders. Now that might seem like something that can’t and shouldn’t be able to exists together, but the story is so cleverly written that it does. I had expected a lazy cash in on a nod to a classic but there was real thought put into the characters, twists to mess with audience expectations, and dialogue. Nothing feels forced here, not even when an exchange like, “You are my George Bailey.” “Will you be my Clarence.” It feels natural and a connection the characters would make. This is what happens when a talented writer, in this case Michael Kennedy, is given time to flesh out character and story. 

Most of the cast is made of younger actors and actresses that I’ve not seen before. There are a few familiar faces with the previously mentioned Justin Long appearing. We also get Joel McHale as David Carruthers. I don’t believe that people give him enough credit as he is normally solid in any role he is given, and this movie is no different. There is also a very short buy memorable appearance from William B. Davis as an early victim of the killer. Who doesn’t love to see the Cigarette Man show up now and again? 

The kills are spaced out and decent enough. These aren’t classics like the old days, and they lean too much into digital for my taste. But there are a lot and many of them are cleverly conceived. The highlights for me are an eye stabbing, an axe to the back, a solid looking throat slash, and a satisfying gut stabbing. Thought the most festive has to be the candy cane thru the mouth. It was both Holly and Jolly!

It wasn’t until after I watched It’s a Wonderful Knife that I realized the director of this movie, Michael Kennedy, was responsible for Patchwork which is a movie that I dug a lot. He also made a movie called Tragedy Girls that I’ve been meaning to check out. I’ve caught bits of it, and it looks interesting. But I’m getting sidetracked. I highly recommend checking out It’s a Wonderful Knife. I think it will fill you with some holiday cheer. 

© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

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