What I appreciate about “It’s A Wonderful Knife” is the empathy at the core of it all, hinged on starry-eyed chemistry between Widdop and quirky co-star Jess McLeod as “Weirdo,” aka social outcast Bernie Simon. The two strike an immediate connection that blossoms on screen as Winnie finds her only ally in Bernie. MacIntyre’s shown he can do bleak and cynical before (“Tragedy Girls”), but “It’s A Wonderful Knife” shows he can navigate comfortable sentimentality the way Winnie and Bernie refuse to lose that hopeful Christmas dopamine rush that hits every December. “It’s A Wonderful Knife” refuses to become another Christmas horror movie that’s a brash takedown of everything holly and jolly, allowing horror fans to cherish life instead of cheering for its end.
“It’s A Wonderful Knife” doesn’t sacrifice or mute its slasher elements, though. The film’s angelic death-dealer uses knives and axes to deliver punishment to countless Angel Falls residents. MacIntyre and Kennedy have fun weaponizing festive signatures, whether that’s candy cane decorations impaling heads or the angel killer’s winged dagger. There’s plenty of blood squirted on windows or pooling by fireplaces, and Winnie puts up a valiant fight not once, but twice against her foe. Cut to sequences when the killer leaps at the audience, or Winnie only has her flash camera to light a pitch-black movie theater, and frights dominate the tone. When the film wants to make you chuckle, it’s all sunshine — when it wants you to scream, it grabs you by the throat.
All that said, “It’s A Wonderful Knife” is a final product that’s begging for a bigger budget and more time. A reported breakneck shooting schedule does leave a few scenes feeling like MacIntyre had to take what he could get under pressure. Line reads can land a little cold (depending on your sense of humor), and there’s a roughness to select practical effects. Any released movie is a minor miracle, but that doesn’t negate the reality that quality is judged via what’s on screen. There’s an indie tint to “It’s A Wonderful Knife” that might struggle to woo audiences used to big-bucks filmmaking, visibly recognized but certainly not a deathblow like an icicle to the eye socket. Grand ambitions and solid execution are its calling card, not without a hiccup here and there.
Nevertheless, Christmas horror fans have a reason to be excited this season. “It’s A Wonderful Knife” sells beyond its punny title, bridging the gap between grinchy anti-Xmas mayhem and sappy holiday tearjerkers. Michael Kennedy and Tyler MacIntyre adore Christmas as much as they love horror cinema, which blends into a meta-parody of family channel hallmarks without losing their soothing sincerity. “It’s A Wonderful Knife” might make its points with steel blades, but that doesn’t negate the saccharine earnestness that assures this one as a new Christmas horror favorite with a heart three sizes bigger than you’d expect.
/Film Rating: 7.5 out of 10