IT’S A WONDERFUL KNIFE. And What If ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ Were a Slasher? [REVIEW]

Loud night, bloody night.

Michal Kaczon

6 December 2023

“It’s a Wonderful Knife,” as the title suggests, is an interesting blend of a holiday film with a slasher, a straightforward reference to Frank Capra’s “It’s A Wonderful Life,” one of the greatest American Christmas classics. Could something good come out of such a combination? I evaluate.

Holiday slashers are becoming increasingly popular. Following last year’s “Violent Night,” the recent “Krampus,” and various versions of “Black Christmas,” it’s now time for a variation on Americans’ favorite Christmas film, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The film tells the story of what would happen if the main character were never born, exploring a reality where the absence of one person is profoundly felt not only by close ones but by the entire town.

The starting point of “It’s A Wonderful Knife” is very similar, although the journey to it is paved with a few corpses. Tyler MacIntyre’s film lasts only 90 minutes, so the action must constantly move forward, not allowing the characters or situations to fully develop. Therefore, when the protagonist makes a wish around the twenty-minute mark to “never be born,” we are not entirely convinced about what led her to such drastic decisions. The writer is not interested in delving into the girl’s psyche either, as they must move on to the next act full of murders and humor.

After uttering the spell, the girl finds herself in an alternative version of reality, and the vision that unfolds before her brings to mind a cheaper version of “Back to the Future.” The change in the color saturation of the image from warm yellow to cold blue is a rather blunt emphasis that we are dealing with the “worst timeline,” as quoted from the brilliant sitcom “Community.” The association is apt, given that Joel McHale, known from that series, plays a role here, though he does so on complete autopilot. Essentially, the only noteworthy performance in the entire cast is the excellent Justin Long as an excessively tanned sinister entrepreneur who has fun with the role, deliberately exaggerating all the mannerisms of his character. (I wonder if the similarities to a certain well-known American politician are coincidental).

“It’s A Wonderful Knife” is a simple and unpretentious film, yet it has its charm. It’s as if the screenwriter, Michael Kennedy, thought, “What if I seasoned Americans’ beloved Christmas story with a bloody slasher sauce?” However, he seemed to have given as much thought to it as to the title itself. The result is a decent and amusing film, but one that probably doesn’t fully exploit its potential, resolving some situations too quickly that begged for a more thorough development.

“It’s A Wonderful Knife” is at times delightfully random, playing with the slasher formula, treating us to a large amount of blood. Some moments are satisfying—a murder on the veranda, unseen from the inside because everyone is busy with a party, or the murders in the cinema, illuminated by the flash’s glow.

However, there are also many motifs here that are barely outlined or completely incomprehensible. At one point, a cult/brainwashing motif appears, causing people to look at the hero as if in a trance, with their eyes glowing green. It looks like a scene from an acted-out Scooby-Doo, but it is entirely inexplicable and underdeveloped. Nothing earlier or later suggests why the characters would have their brains washed, making this moment seem left in the editing, even though an entire subplot explaining this sequence was cut.

Nevertheless, “It’s A Wonderful Knife” can put a smile on the viewer’s face and delight them with the straightforwardness of certain solutions or even the overt highlighting of its references, as well as nicely and unobtrusively incorporating queer themes, which serve as a pleasant addition to the main story. However, it’s hard to shake the feeling that many scenes or situations would benefit significantly from a dramatic development rather than just a condensed version getting to the point.

“It’s a Wonderful Knife” is unlikely to become an unforgettable hit, but on the other hand, it may provide a pleasant time for viewers—a casual and unpretentious pleasure.

Michal Kaczon

Michal Kaczon

A cultural journalist and a fan of pop culture in its various forms. A lover of film and music festivals, where he is a frequent and enthusiastic participant. He sometimes treats the cinema as a second home.

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