I was planning to share this microreview on Christmas Eve. But when I realized Tyler McIntyre’s ‘It’s a Wonderful Knife’ takes place on Sunday December 24, 2023 I had to fast-track so horror nerds like myself can watch the movie on the actual day it takes place this year. Like, when does this ever happen? Never. Because it’s really hard to coordinate things like this in a film production, which take years to organize. And this fantastic attention to detail carries through the entire film in the best ways.
Written by Michael Kennedy, who co-penned one of my new favorite films of all time ‘Freaky,’ ‘It’s a Wonderful Knife’ is similarly and unapologetically queer, and it’s fucking GLORIOUS. The story is essentially a slasher retelling of Frank Capra’s classic ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’ the tale of George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) who is driven to suicide on Christmas Eve. After that fails, he wishes he was never born and his guardian angel Clarence (Henry Travers) grants the wish.
Similarly, in ‘Wonderful Knife’ it’s a year after a gruesome Christmas Eve tragedy in Angel Falls that took the lives of five citizens, including Winnie’s (Jane Widdop) best friend. Remember Kate’s (Phoebe Cates) worst Christmas Eve ever in ‘Gremlins’? Well, Winnie and Angel Falls’ incident gives Kate’s a serious run for its money — Savings and Loan pun intended. Winnie continues to have extreme PTSD from what she witnessed and did to survive.
But everyone else has moved on to business as usual, including family and friends who leave her alone in her grief. A furious and frustrated Winnie finds herself at the edge of town and George Baileys herself on an Aurora Borealis. Within moments she’s attacked by the same Angelfaced serial killer who rampaged a year before, in an Angel Falls run by now super-powerful real estate tycoon Henry Waters (Justin Long), who has developed the bejeezus out of the once-charming village. Winnie realizes that she’s the only one who can stop the killer, and the only one who believes her enough to help is social pariah Bernie (Jess McLeod) who everyone in town has renamed ‘Weirdo.’
It’s hard to imagine that a Christmas slasher could be so delightful, but this one is, and an absolutely perfect queer companion feature to Capra’s film. It’s gorgeously life affirming, and as beautiful an installment of queer horror as its sibling film ‘Freaky.’ That said, ‘It’s a Wonderful Knife’ is also an important reminder for the holiday season (and all year long) that as bad as things seem, things can always get worse, and especially amid the current political and social climate of real-life horrors like genocide plus the ongoing pandemic.
And to that effect, Winnie’s not-dad dad in the alterverse (Joel Hale) says in a particularly moving monologue, “You know it’s really something. One person, one life, can change everything just by being gone. And they don’t even know it. And they are so lucky that they don’t get to see the pain that they left in their wake. And they should be so lucky. Could you imagine? What seeing this would do to a person?” What a vital, and powerful message, especially for those who struggle during the holiday season.
My only complaint about this film is the several scenes of intensely flashing lights, a content warning that was absent from my film rental and could affect photosensitive viewers. Everything else is chef’s kiss perfection.
✨Pink tracksuit/5 stars. Highly recommend horror fans buying this one instead of renting it since you’ll likely watch it every Christmas Eve from now on. I know I will.✨
Zuzu Zombie’s #Horrorthon365 project is a collection of eclectic genre watchlists with accompanying microreviews to suit the changing seasons. Horrorthon365 was sparked by a gnarly hand injury and carpal tunnel surgery gone awry, hence the flash-style reviews. After a wicked fall at home and brutal elbow fracture that required surgery, posts will be sporadic until I’m healed. In the meantime, browse the entire collection here.