TADFF 2023: Hallmark Christmas Meets Slasher Villain in It’s a Wonderful Knife

30 October 2023 / by Nicole. Soroka
It's a Wonderful Knife Film Review
TADFF 2023: Hallmark Christmas Meets Slasher Villain in It’s a Wonderful Knife
This holiday horror flick delivers a delightful twist and a feel-good take on the slasher genre.

It’s hard to imagine having Christmas tainted by the terrorizing acts of a masked angel of death. However, one small-town teenage girl must come face to face with the relentless killer on more than one occasion in order to appreciate what she still has to live for, and what she adds to the lives of those who live on. 


It’s a Wonderful Knife is directed by Tyler MacIntyre (Tragedy Girls, 2017), written by Michael Kennedy and produced by Seth Caplan, Daniel Bekerman and Kennedy. The film stars Jane Widdop (Yellowjackets), Joel McHale (Community), Justin Long (Barbarian, 2022) and Jess McLeod (One of Us is Lying). The film was shot throughout Vancouver in March 2023. 


During a Q&A at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival, Kennedy was asked to share his thoughts as to how they found the best tone to use in order to successfully add to such an unconventional subgenre.  


“Working with Christopher Landon on Freaky (2020) was the best film school,” said Kennedy. “I learned in that movie that no one gives a s**t about slashers in the modern era unless they care about the characters… I really go for emotions, I go for relationships first and that’s where all of my stories start.” 


MacIntyre also shared his experience with casting Long in the film. 

“We had a lot of offers trying to find the right person to play that exaggerated villain,” explained MacIntyre. “Once Long came in, I had a series of meetings with him and it became pretty apparent that he wanted to go big… let’s go to crazy town, population Justin Long.” 


It’s a Wonderful Knife first premiered at Beyond Fest in Los Angeles on October 8, 2023, before screening at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival two weeks later. The film currently has a 5.6 out of 10 star rating on IMDb


This film follows the story of Angel Falls teen, Winnie Carruthers, who witnesses the murder of her best friend on Christmas Eve, shortly before taking down the killer herself. After a year passes by, Winnie seems to be the only person who is haunted by the memory of the attack. As her life begins to unravel, she hastily makes a wish that she was never born and is mysteriously transferred to a parallel universe moments later. However, since she does not exist in this version of her town, no one has been able to put a stop to the angel of death, who has been on a rampant killing spree for a full year. Now, it’s up to Winnie, with the help of an unexpected partner, to take down the killer, in order to transport herself back home. 


It’s a Wonderful Knife is a fun, spirited watch, filled with slasher tropes from start to finish and complete with nods to beloved, cheesy Hallmark Christmas films. 


There are many similarities to Scream (1996) in how the angel of death stalks his main targets and how he goes about killing them in gruesome, graphic ways. There is also plenty of comedy behind the horror, with a favourite character for both the filmmakers and audience being Buck Waters, portrayed by Sean Depner, for his use of hilarious improvisation throughout the movie. 


This film also sends a wonderful message about how the presence of one person can affect the lives of so many others; a tie-in to the filmmakers’ Christmas storyline inspired by It’s a Wonderful Life (1946). Winnie’s character does a deep dive into what her family and friends’ lives would look like without her in it, and what she discovers speaks to how valued she is to those around her. 


The film also features a picturesque set, complete with thousands of shimmering, bright Christmas lights and more red, white and green ornaments than one can imagine. The town itself is situated in the midst of a mountain-filled horizon, with the Aurora Borealis revealing itself over the deep black and blue ocean. Picture the North Pole in The Christmas Chronicles 2 (2020) and you’ll have a pretty close idea as to how Christmas-centric the town of Angel Falls appears.


The whole cast has wonderful chemistry and plays off of each other fairly well. For a movie that is filled with young actors who are in the midst of making it big in the film and television industries, they do a great job of bringing a story to life that pulls at the audience’s heartstrings.


You might be wondering how a slasher film can be an emotional ride – viewers will just have to wait and see. If you are not one for spoilers, do not watch the trailer ahead of viewing the film. While most of the information within the trailer is given away during the first 20-30 minutes of the movie, it might be more enjoyable to blindly watch the twists and turns unfold on the big screen. If you love slasher flicks and are a fan of the holiday season, then this film is not to be missed. 


While the film is being released to select theatres across the United States this November, the filmmakers revealed to the TADFF audience that there is discussion of a limited theatrical release with Cineplex. Keep an eye out for showings of It’s a Wonderful Knife at your local Cineplex this holiday season or catch the film on demand beginning November 10.