“It’s a Wonderful Life”…from hell! is the latest spin on a classic holiday film. The story uses the same premise with a cutthroat, modern twist. After stopping a killing rampage in her town, teenager Winnie Carruthers is feeling down about herself. She wishes she’d never been born, creating a reality where she never stopped the madman. The new universe she inhabits is bleak, where the killer is knocking down bodies left and right. Can Winnie stop the chaos and get back to her life before it’s too late?
When I heard the premise for this movie, I was immediately intrigued. What a clever idea to create a story that mirrors one of Christmas’ most beloved stories. Being a big horror fan, this was a treat for me! The film is very self-aware and wastes no time letting the audience know that. A combination of classic horror elements combined with the hallmark feelgood story are the basis for the film. Holiday slashers are becoming more prominent and it’s great seeing what creative spins people come up with. “It’s a Wonderful Knife” is a stylish slasher flick that is designed to be fun. It certainly achieves that and takes inspiration from favorites in both the holiday and slasher genre.
There is a nice look to the film as well, especially when Winnie is transported to her alternate reality. The bleak, blue hues in the cinematography make for a nice contrast to the reality she is from. I also enjoyed the design of the killer. The all-white angel costume fits the Christmas theme well, featuring a knife with angel wings on the handle. Justin Long is in yet another horror movie, embracing the roles that he’s good at. I enjoyed his over-the-top performance as the crooked mayor. He hams it up nicely and understands the film he is in.
“It’s a Wonderful Knife” provides lots of enjoyable moments, but it is also wildly uneven. What I was hoping would be a memorable holiday slasher turns into a movie that makes some truly puzzling decisions on the story front. A few of the ideas are excellent and embrace this concept, but others go in bonkers directions that left a bad taste in my mouth. There is some forced social commentary in the film that doesn’t fit into the story, but instead hits the audience like a brick wall. It is truly some of the most shoehorned, cheap social commentary I’ve seen in quite some time. The first half of the film is where the story is most interesting. The concept is then stripped apart in the final act and highlights everything wrong with the movie.
Performances are a surprising down check too. The cast is strong for a film made on such a low budget, not to mention the smaller studios producing it. But every single performance outside of Justin Long left a lot to be desired. I’m not sure if their performances were meant to be over the top or not, but even for a movie this campy…it doesn’t work. The script could be a factor as it was extremely poor. Even the best actors can’t deliver with a bad script. But that’s a theme throughout the film: sloppiness. Even a movie as fun as this can be brought down by a poorly conceived script, lackluster performances, and bizarre ideas.
This Christmas slasher had all the right ingredients. A good cast, fun idea, and slick look aren’t enough to save “It’s a Wonderful Knife” from falling into the mediocrity of slashers of the past. I’m surprised at the direction the story went by the end, creating an unsatisfying feeling once the credits rolled. It’s not the worst movie to throw on during the holidays, but even for horror fans…I’d say tune into the original film for some Christmas cheer instead.