Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Demonic. Deadly. Delicious: The Muffin Man (2006)

The Muffin Man (2006)
Rating: ***
Starring: Chris Ippolito, Michael Shepherd, Allison Lynch

"I'm here to warn you that the entire staff of this donut shop is in danger of being murdered by a homicidal and possibly immortal serial killer. Also, I'll have a coffee. Black. And a honey cruller."

Yep. It's one of those movies.

In this direct-to-video indie-treat, the scene starts with baker Desmond Bailey decorating some kid's birthday cake with a bowl of fondant purposely contaminated with a not so sweet special ingredient: rat poison. As you would've guessed, our baker is a serial killer who's already responsible for a series of cake poisonings that took the lives of 29 victims and, following the receipts of the tainted cakes, a pair of detectives arrive at Desmond's bakery that night to put a stop to his 'baked bads'. The pastry maker, however, isn't going down without a fight, killing one of the detectives with a hurled tray of muffins (!) before brawling against the other, only for it to end with his head getting covered in dough and shoved into an oven, baking the crazy confectioner to death.

This should have been the end of our nightmare-maker baker, but some otherworldly forces out there say otherwise and up rises The Muffin Man, a supernatural being with a bloodlust for anyone involved in bread-based businesses. 

Flash-forward five years later, the staff of a small donut shop, Gonuts Donuts, (where 'you'll go nuts for their donuts!') gets a visit from the surviving detective, Hank Egger, now grizzled after tailing the Muffin Man throughout its worldwide killing spree. He warns them of the arrival of the supernatural murderer and strongly urges them to close shop early and go home, but as a typical response to horror movie doomsayers, none of the staff takes his tale of an undead killer baker seriously. That is, of course, until The Muffin Man arrives to end them all, with eyes glowing red, demonic voice spewing hellish threats and a giant scrumptious muffin for a head...    

If you're diving into The Muffin Man (2006) with the mindset that you're about to watch what's basically a live-action horror cartoon revolving around a murderous pastry hacking away dumb people while spewing overly long threats, then you're certainly the kind of people this movie is aiming for as there's no doubt this title is a special brand of fun, nonsensical silliness! It's shlocky, yes, with not-so-stellar acting and characters written to be caricatures of lowbrow employees barely running a small establishment, whisked into a mix of low-budget special effects, sound design and video quality, the resulting mess is still this type of tongue-in-cheek ham and cheese junkfood horror that embraces the goofiness of the premise and it isn't afraid to be a little more outrageous with its zaniness! 

As an oddball bodycounter, the baking-themed murder do rely more on caricatured absurdity and belly laughs than chunky gore, with one poor fella getting literally flattened to death with a rolling pin as an example. The titular 'Muffin Man' not only looks the part of a comical killer dough demon with its baker uniform and the humongous, vaguely-humanoid muffin head, but its overly exaggerated evilness apparently comes with lengthy declarations of ungodly torments, some of which awfully sounds like heavy metal verses such as This world has not prepared you for the torment you will know! You're looking at Hell's infernal kitchen!

All of these in a measly yet satisfying 40 minutes. End credits included. A workable run for a small budget production without completely overcooking its humor.

The Muffin Man (2006) is a delectably guilty morsel of a mini-flick, one that's charmingly good as a low cost movie about a homicidal hellspawn muffin can be. Fans of weird horror comedies of the cheddary-kind, bite into this one!

1 male gets a hurled tray of muffins impaled into his chest
1 male had his head baked inside an oven
1 male killed offscreen
1 female drowned in a dumpster bin full of donut grease
1 male crushed flat with a rolling pin
1 male stabbed in the head with a pump full of strawberry jelly
1 female stabbed through the face with a rolling pin
Total: 7

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Door-To-Door Nightmares: Door (1988)

Door (Japan, 1988)
Rating: ****
Starring: Keiko Takahashi, Daijirô Tsutsumi, Shirô Shimomoto

Yasuko, a housewife, lives a rather regular life in a high-rise urban apartment with her husband Satoru and young son Takuto, with the only snags in her happy mundane days being Satoru's workaholic tendencies which often have him spending more time in the office, as well as the constant barrage of spam messages from phone calls, mails, and door-to-door sales. Little did she expect, unfortunately, that a particular visit from an uncomfortably forward salesman one day would set off a series of stalking and harassment, hurling Yasuko down a disturbing path of distressing encounters and increasing violence which soon ends in an unsettling and brutal home invasion.

Marketed as an extremely rare late-80s home invasion slasher flick that never got a screening outside of Japan until very recently, Door (1988) is more of an Italian giallo-inspired stalker horror that leans towards style and direction rather than an increasing bodycount. The story is simple and straightforward, slowly burning its way from the everyday normalities of a small family, to the sinister scares and creepy set-pieces perpetrated by either our villainous stalker or Yasuko's growing paranoia, all in a pace that's best described as organic. It does take a while to get to the action going, in turn, and a few scenes did feel like they're padding for time, but the build-up is made mostly bearable and captivating thanks to the lurid cinematography and free-floating camera work effectively capturing just how alone and helpless Yasuko is in her predicament. A good portion of visual shots are even done in positions showing wide spaces behind or around certain characters to further convey this sense of isolation, greatly working with the narrative as it soon establishes that Yasuko's husband, Satoru, is essentially neglecting his family being so focused on his job, plus her neighbors would prefer to turn a blind eye to the attacks as they retreat to the safety of their own apartments and the cops are unable to help Yasuko that much as she never got a good look at the salesman so she couldn't provide them a proper description of her stalker. All of these elements melded well to create an intense and atmospheric plot that'll only get more shocking as it reaches its climax.

These last 20 minutes of Door (1988) is this movie's cream of the crop, an impressive scattershot of bloodwork and ferocity as Yasuko and her son Takuto, now trapped in their own home, are forced to flee from room to room and fight with whatever they can against a deranged salesman gone full maniac on them, knife at hand on one moment, a roaring chainsaw in the next. Gore makes its welcome presence around these parts, not overly splashy but a gnarly display nonetheless. Cinematographer Yasushi Sasakibara's phenomenal camera work captures the pure chaos and claustrophobic terror in an array of interesting shots, while Junichi Kikuchi's wild editing helps keep the hectic pace of the attacks, juxtaposing with the eerie slow burn that came before. Granted all of these end with a single kill only, the gradual escalation of edge and suspense made the wait all worth it, even more so when the death itself is crazy violent, cathartic in a very macabre way.

Keiko Takahashi, wife of Door's director, Banmei Takahashi, carries the film as our lead Yasuko, doing a fantastic job making the character sympathetic enough to make us feel for her during her loneliest and most helpless plights, definitely selling a lot of the film's more crucial moments. In turn, Daijiro Tsutsumi, playing our stalking salesman Yamakawa, lands quite an impression with his transition from a calm yet disturbed creep to a manic madman prone to sexual violence, despite the character having very little background to explain his sudden spiral to depravity. He's simply crazy. Dangerous. Sometimes that's all we need from a good horror villain and Tsutsumi nailed his part.

Door (1988) undoubtedly have most of its bits and pieces working in its favor, resulting to a terror flick that swims in shuddersome unease and nightmarish fear before rewarding us with a bout of thrilling savagery. A psychological horror with grit in its teeth, I say don't miss this one! 

1 male stabbed with a barbecue fork and brained with a bat, nearly decapitated with a chainsaw
Total: 1

Monday, February 12, 2024

The Old Home: Next of Kin (1982)

Next of Kin (Australia, 1982)
Rating: ****
Starring: Jacki Kerin, John Jarratt, Alex Scott

Made and released during Australia's boom of exploitation flicks, this cult classic slasher thriller is an anomaly in aesthetics but well deserving of its status of a genre-defining favorite among many!

Returning back to her home town after receiving news that her dear mother passed away, Linda Stevens (Jacki Kerin) sees herself inheriting Montclare, a gothic yet luxuriant nursing home that her mother and aunt Rita created out of their own manor. Knowing little about the place, Linda entertained the idea of just selling it away and getting on with her life, but seeing the pleasant hostility of the home's head nurse Connie (Gerda Nicolson) and local medic Dr. Barton (Alex Scott), who both have been running the Montclare during the times Linda's mother was ailing, she sensed something rather off about her situation, opting to ponder over her decisions a bit more and maybe even managing the place while she's at it. 

When one of the elderly residents is found dead at the bottom of a bathtub one day, Linda's stay in Montclare took a turn for the macabre as she's now catching glimpses of a mysterious figure hanging around the grounds, getting phone calls from someone heavily breathing on the other line, as well as finding sink and baths mysteriously left open to run. Furthermore, she discovers her late-mother's diary detailing something evil lurking within the manor and her aunt's eventual descent into violent madness twenty years ago. When asked about the home's dark past, Dr Barton and Connie decline to speak about the matter, forcing Linda to seek help from a local boy she's romancing named Barney (Pre-Wolf Creek John Jarratt!) in uncovering what's really going on in Montclare...

To call Next of Kin (1982) a slasher is only true for about a third of the movie as the rest play out more as a slow burn psychological thriller crafted with effectively haunting imagery, stylized scenery, and, too, intriguing characters for the premise to focus on. It's a direction that may not work for most, but the film's steady and controlled pacing undoubtedly help build the story and tension towards a workably dark and gothic mystery behind the enigmatic horrors hidden in Montclare, fleshing out the devil in the details and, too, raising the dread the further the situation deepens. There's a mild surrealist bend to its execution, making use of a good deal of superb camerawork and uncannily eloquent visuals to give this Ozploitation piece a psuedo-supernatural sense in its scares, adding more on its creep factor. In turn, the narrative is well-acted and tainted with low cheese, influenced greatly by the Old Dark House horror outings down to the very tropes of apparent hauntings and suspiciously secretive individuals, with lead actress Jacki Kerin navigating her character through this unraveling plot with a fair range of being warmly nostalgic towards the old town she grew up in and simply downright horrified once a nightmarish turn starts a horrifying killing spree. 

It isn't until the closing act where the murdering steps in, as a genuinely enthralling reveal sets off a good old fashioned cat-and-mouse stalking and terrifyingly villains on the prowl. It's a rewarding payoff after an hour of build up, one that may have rushed the bodycount since most of the murders were done offcamera, but the striking imagery of the slaughtered bodies do make up for it, plus the overall eeriness of the attacks, done hauntingly through expressive camera work and sound design, are among the most efficient I've seen! 

So, not the most carnal slasher out there, but Next of Kin (1982) manages to maintain a noteworthy cult following for just how it stands out in tone and style compared to most other bodycounter horror flicks. It's a genuine horror gem spellbound with a patient yet captivatingly dark storytelling, exploding into a visceral display of tormented realities and murderous psychosis just right before the film meets its reaches its strange yet captivating conclusion. If you're yet to see this, then you owe yourself a viewing of this psychological mini-masterpiece from our friends down under! 

1 elderly male found dead in a bath tub
1 elderly male found drowned in a bath tub (flashback)
1 female found dead from a slashed throat
1 male found murdered, face bloodied 
1 female found murdered, body seen in bath tub
1 male found dead from a head wound and a syringe to the neck, body seen in bath tub
1 female stabbed through the eye with a hat pin comb
1 male had his head blown off with a shot gun
Total; 8

Friday, January 19, 2024

Beware The Witch's Water: Feed (2022)

Feed (Sweden, 2022)
Rating: ***1/2
Starring: Vincent Grahl, Sofia Kappel, Annica Liljeblad

Hoping to market their experience to countless lifestyle fans online for content and clout, a group of social media influencers set themselves to take a relaxing weekend at an eco-resort curiously located at a small island right in the middle of a lake, all owned by an elderly couple who are more than happy to see their little business getting some attention, maybe enough to hinder a lingering bankruptcy. 

It's mostly a quaint stay, with the resort being more of a luxurious camp that comes with spacious tents decked with furniture, an outdoor grill, a wood-fired sauna and even its own little legend of a child-devouring witch named Märit, who was forced to wear an iron mask and banished to the very same island back in the 17th century, right before supposedly taking her own life by drowning herself in the lake. The gruesome ghost story have the elderly couple cautioning the group from approaching the water, but it isn't long before the gang would ignore the ominous warning and can't help taking a swim, resulting to one of them to get attacked by something and be horribly maimed. 

After a rescue attempt by one of the resort owners eerily ends with the old man getting dragged into the water, the group will not only learn in their horror that they're marooned on the island, but there is also something murderous living in this Scandinavian lake that could surface and stalk the island for more victims to take...

For a good stretch of the film, Feed (2022) echoes the likes of The Ruins (2008) or even The Raft segment from Creepshow II (1987) with victims-to-be trying to figure out their chances of surviving and escaping the single location they're trapped in without getting their numbers dwindling down further, courtesy of a threat that's hunting them. It makes for an engrossing watch, focusing on the group's uncanny encounters with the water-drenched killer, as well as the risks and lengths they'll do just for that slight chance of salvation which, in turn, opens up a surprising amount of character build-up from a group that was initially introduced as one-dimensional stereotypes of self-absorbed influencers. Add on the matter that the killer itself, the iron-masked Märit, is intriguingly depicted as a rapid wave of water tailing boats and swimmers to drag them down to a watery grave, and, too, as an amphibious figure that can only walk and stalk around wet grounds, a bit of mythos that help build a few decent suspense scenes of our group looking for places around the small island where they can hide from the witch as rain pours down, and you have a backwoods slasher with a rather unique touch to it, throwing in some curveballs to our expectations to keep us on our toes and even some fair scares to boot.

By the time the film reaches it climax, Feed (2022) shifts its gear from seemingly supernatural to something a little more grounded, which is also when the plot piles up on the bodycount as it drops all façade of restraint and go all out on its crazed twist. It's not perfect, leaving a few questions unanswered and even coming off as rather improbable, not to mention wasting such an amazing villain design, but so long as it leads to some gruesome kills and the typical hokey villain monologues, I can stretch my disbelief enough to enjoy this last act generously peppered with brutal kills and gruesome thrills of B-grade proportions. 

Despite the flaws, Feed (2022) is a promising little Swedish slasher that does the backwoods horror jig in a largely traditional way even with the tempting opportunities for it to devolve into another lazily modernized outing. In fact, the whole social media aspect of the movie didn't really do much to drive the story forward and it's mostly set aside as self-aware jabs at the culture for the sake of a few jokes or even as a character's flaw, which is a little rich coming from a film produced by Joakim Lundell, who is among the biggest influencers in Sweden, but a welcome and well appreciated approach nevertheless. I say give this one a chance! It ain't great, but it is good!

1 female murdered, method unknown
1 female dragged away, murdered offcamera
1 male shot with a shotgun
1 female hacked to death with a hatchet
1 male shot with a shotgun
1 female shot to death with a shotgun
1 male knifed through the mouth
Total: 7

Friday, January 12, 2024

In Deep Deadly Thought: We Might Hurt Each Other (2022)

We Might Hurt Each Other (Rupintojelis) (Lithuania, 2022) (AKA "Pensive")
Rating: ****
Starring: Sarunas Rapolas Meliesius, Gabija Bargailaite, Marius Repsys

The general idea is something we've seen dozens of times; teens go to the woods to party, teens end up hunted and dead. It's a slasher plot as old as the sub-genre's golden age, though this Lithuanian 2022 entry opted to do a little more with what it can dish out while still paying some tribute to classic backwoods slashers.

Marius (Sarunas Rapolas Meliesius) is the class outcast who sees himself planning to skip the post-graduation festivities of partying hard and getting blind drunk with his fellow classmates in favor of playing it safe and oppose any risk that could fall in his way. His bestfriend Vytas (Povilas Jatkevičius) thinks it's about time he at least try breaking out of his little bubble of comfort, maybe even finally ask out his crush Brigita (Gabija Bargailaitė), and the opportunity would soon presents itself when Marius learns that the end-of-the-year party lacks a venue and his realtor mother happens to have a lakeside cottage that she couldn't get sell off. The class accepts his offer of a new spot to crash in and the socially invisible Marius is now a part of the whole excitable gaggle.

What the youngsters didn't know is that the cottage was the home of one Algis Motiejūnas, a man who survived a fire that took the lives of his family and carved really eerie sculptures of mourning figures before he seemingly taking his own life. As the gang went on with their celebration, it isn't too long that the sculptures are drunkenly vandalized for firewood later that night and, shortly thereafter, they're fatally punished for it one hatchet swing at a time.

We Might Hurt Each Other (2022) takes a while to get to the backwoods carnage, so it spends half of its entire run setting up the social dynamics of the group first and does a rather spectacular job at that; the writing and acting felt organic enough to work an interesting set of main characters to focus on, investing a decent development on their growth past beyond their archetypes the further the story progresses. And it is through this chance to know and connect with them emotionally that made the lingering sting of the second act all the more effective as, once the killer shows up to do murder, we're forced to wonder just how far some of these people will go to save themselves as they question their responsibilities for a problem they didn't create. 

This theme of social responsibility lingers greatly during the massacre, throwing the story to directions that shift some characters from being dull to selfless individuals, others from adorable to just downright horrendous people, once faced with the danger of being snuffed out by a madman in a mask. It's a whole lot of escapades of true natures getting revealed, betrayed friendships and consequential brutal bloodshed, making the climactic act one heck of an emotional rollercoaster that touches some real morally-provoking questions down to its rather bleak and polarizing "good" ending. 

On the slasher side of the conversation, it's fairly serviceable; We Might Hurt each Other (2023) does the usual stunt of hinting its killer's existence via heavy breathing POV shots first before escalating it to hands-on murders once the maniac decided to show up. A good chunk of the kills were done offcamera, especially one massacre scene wherein more than half of the class are slaughtered by our slasher after cornering them in the cottage they're hiding at, but for those that get to be seen onscreen do deliver on the film's gore quota with one brutally splashy kill to the next. The killer themselves is a throwback to the earlier Friday the 13th films, mainly an amalgamation of Pamela Voorhees and her son, Jason, considering their family-centric reason for the murder spree which would also become their downfall when this is used against them in a way not unlike how Ginny tricked Jason in Friday The 13th Part 2 (1981). That being said, there's little to no surprise who the killer is and, frankly, there's not a whole lot more going for them apart from looking spooky in their wooden mask and that they only target people who destroyed the sculptures.

We Might Hurt Each Other (2022)'s slasher elements may not break any new grounds, its story of how rotten people can get once the odds are stacking against them does give this movie a little more weight for its gloomy angle and heartbreaking treacheries. Plus, it simply looks and sounds great, a real showcase of talent and production that I can easily recommend for a viewing or two!

2 males and 1 female steamed to death inside a locked sauna
1 male knifed in the back
7 females and 2 males hacked and stabbed mostly offcamera with a hatchet and a knife  
1 male jabbed in the neck with a barbecue skewer
1 female had her head forced unto a broken window
1 male had his head chopped off with a hatchet
1 female found burned to death
1 male burned to death
1 male dies from a stab wound
1 female falls off a cliff
Total: 20

Sunday, December 31, 2023

Bloody Ends Before New Beginnings: Time's Up (2022)

Time's Up (2022)
Rating: **
Starring: Damian Maffei, Hannah Fierman, L.C. Holt

On a general occasion, whenever a slasher flick sets itself around the theme of school bullying, it's often within the idea of brutally snuffing out those who did the bullying as presented by movies like Evilspeak (1981), Slaughter High (1986) and Tormented (2009). In Time's Up (2022), however, it appears the kill count will be focusing on the people who could have prevented the bullying, as in the school staff from the principal to the guidance counselor, from the theater teacher to the gym coach. A novel angle, but will the approach be just as good?

It's New Year's Eve and the faculty members of Pine Falls Highschool are celebrating the countdown at a get together, all the while trying to get behind a recent tragedy wherein a student committed suicide after so much bullying and heartbreak, an incident that tainted the school's reputation considerably. Easier said than done when someone dressed up as "Father Time" is making sure those responsible for the death will pay in blood, thus forcing these fine folks to a game of scavenger hunt that night and should they refuse to partake, lives will be taken. 

Time's Up (2022) definitely has a something to say about a school's role on their students' well-being and it does so by working in small scenes of drama involving the bullied teen and his interactions with the staff members. The drawback from this is that the acting and writing are questionable enough to be distracting, so the effectiveness of the story's depth is mostly loss and often hinders with flow of the plot. It also doesn't help that there isn't that many likeable characters here and those who could've been interesting have barely anything to do except be played as ploys for the killer's grand scheme of revenge. Quite a shame, really, since the story does have the ambitious potential to be good, engaging even, if only the execution is anywhere competently handled.

The only good things to come out of Time's Up (2022) are the kills being done in worthwhile practical effects, with the few extreme slayings really delivering the gore, and the killer's "Father Time" get-up looking rather creepily good that I kinda wish we see more of the maniac in action while donning it. There's also a scene in the last act where an arsehole character bites the big one in the most satisfyingly brutal way, but apart from that, the film could have use some extra polishing to smoothen out its small production bumps.  

Decent enough for a quick watch, but I can't picture myself coming back to this one as an annual treat.

1 male shot through the mouth
1 male gets a hammer claw to the head
1 male seen dying from a throat cut
1 male found murdered with their face carved
1 female slashed in half with a scythe
1 male succumbs to a heart attack
1 female had her throat cut with a knife
1 male found murdered
1 female stabbed with a knife, later found decapitated
1 female found with rail spikes ran into her eyes
1 male found murdered, body wrapped in plastic
1 male gets a knife stabbed into the back of his neck
1 male stabbed in the eye with his own fractured bone
1 female brained with a cinder block
Total: 14

Friday, December 29, 2023

Of Christmas Slays From Days That Could've Been: It's a Wonderful Knife (2023)

It's A Wonderful Knife (2023)
Rating: ***1/2
Starring: Jane Widdop, Joel McHale, Justin Long

Every time an angel do their slayings, a victim gets their wings.

Alright, let me just get this out there first and tell you guys that I never saw the Christmas classic It's a Wonderful Life (1946), but I am familiar with its plot thanks to a lot of cartoons from my childhood parodying it with varying degrees of effectiveness, showing me what would happen when a meddling angel takes the time to talk a troubled soul out of removing themselves from the plane of existence by showing how sucky everything would be without them. It's a cute concept, warm even, so why not put a little slasher spin to the tale for our bloodcurdling enjoyment? 

The small and idyllic town of Angel Falls is currently going through a bit of a commercial takeover courtesy of its excessively wheedling mayor, Henry Waters (Justin Long), and the only obstacle left before the unctuous town leader can start building his dream mall is an old man who refuses to sell his real estate. It's Christmas Eve and after rejecting Waters his title of the land once more, the old timer bites the big one when someone dressed in an ironically angelic white cloak and creepy blank-faced mask murders him, before going after his teen granddaughter, Cara Evans (Hana Huggins), who's currently attending a Christmas party with her bestfriend, our lead girl Winnie Carruthers (Jane Widdop). Just when the festivities are in full swing, Winnie unfortunately gets the dishonor of watching her bestie die at the hands of the Angel of Death before the cloaked killer goes after her and her gay brother, Jimmy (Aiden Howard). One cat-and-mouse stalk through the woods later, Winnie eventually ends the carnage by electrocuting the Angel to death with a car battery just as the bastard was about to dig its dagger into her brother's chest, revealing the killer to be none other than *gasp!* Mayor Waters!

Jump ahead one year and it's Christmas once again. Angel Falls is moving past the horrific killing spree that shook the little town and everyone is doing their best to be honky-dory for the holidays. Everyone, except Winnie; still reeling from the trauma of losing Cara, she's disheartened by the fact that most of her family is basically blind to her grief and her Joyeux Noel is further tainted when the college she's aiming to get in rejects her application, some members of the Waters clan are openly hostile at her for killing Henry (yeah, well, maybe he shouldn't be killing in the first place?) and she catches her boyfriend getting the mistletoe service from the school floozy. Holly jolly mood broken from one bad news to the next, beaten down to her lowest, Winnie wishes under the glow of the night's glowing green aurora that she's never been born. 

Well? Wish granted.

Now Winnie finds herself in an alternate reality where she never existed and, in turn, no one was there to stop Henry Waters from his killing spree. The town is now in shambles, with the Waters family taking over most of the businesses and positions of authority, and, oh, the friggin' Angel of Death is still out and about depopulating the town of its people every other week or so. As Winnie is now a blank slate to everyone in town, she also has little to no way on convincing the townsfolk that their beloved mayor is behind the growing death toll so she has no choice but to find a way to stop the Angel from taking more lives herself and hopefully find a way back to the life she once thought is crummy. Thankfully, she has the town weirdo Bernie Simon (Jess McLeod) on her side, convinced of her wild tales of wishing to never existing and Maniac Mayor Waters after she herself gets a close call of getting acquainted with the Angel's dagger, but will their combined wit and bravery be enough to undo the reign of terror that have befallen Angel Falls?

As a horror stab on It's A Wonderful Life, It's A Wonderful Knife (2023) transitioned a lot of the Christmas classic's plot elements into the slasher playing field well enough to give us a rather unique festive bodycounter that delivers chuckles and chucked body parts, but not without tumbling down a step or two; It starts off strong with an oldie but goodie slasher act of a mad masked maniac going after their victims in a motivated killing spree, dishing out striking visuals, intense murders and effective prowling scenes punctuated with an unmasking and an obvious reveal. From there, the movie spends a fair roll showcasing our lead girl's understandable seasonal depression and the universe's unwavering cruelty of playing its dices against her, an overwhelming bout of cynicism that taps well into the movie's ability to evoke pity whenever it is needed, which would have been a memorably strong direction given that Knife stuck with it.  

Instead, once after an otherworldly force answers Winnie's wish of non-existence, the film leans to a more quickly paced, humor-adjacent approach and though this is no means a bad thing, it does take away opportunities for the film to go deeper into the horror and misery of the odd misadventure our heroine finds herself in, something that could have build the stakes higher and grace us with a better range of character development that didn't feel sort of lacking, if not rushed. For its worth, the writing at least maintains an animated energy and even a sense of warmth, particularly whenever it focuses on Winnie learning her lesson after seeing how terrible things would have become if she didn't came to be, thus motivating her to find a solution to undo it to better everyone's lives, as well as her growing relationship towards the town's young pariah cruelly nicknamed 'Weirdo', who'd become Winnie's strongest ally and a workable second main character to root for. 

When it comes to the slasher goods, It's A Wonderful Knife (2023) fortunately swings it with a fair line of bloody kills that goes double digits by the count and fun set-pieces packed with viable thrills and suspense, plus the design of the Angel of Death really stands out for how simple yet menacing they look in an all-white mask and cloak, even more so blood-drenched. The only Crux of the matter is that, seeing we pretty much know Mayor Waters is the culprit behind the first set of murders, the movie tries to bend things a bit to keep the massacres a little less easy to resolve, though the path taken unnecessarily complicates things to the point it's nonsensical: without revealing too much, the whole thing devolves into a weird, cultish, mind-control situation that may or may not be supernatural. It all came out of nowhere and the resulting showdown at Angel Fall's town center is just mind-boggling for how needlessly extra it is when the eventual resolution is underwhelmingly simple. 

Little flecks of coal aside, It's A Wonderful Knife (2023) grants our wishes of a fairly fun slasher for the holidays! It may not be at the same ball park as Happy Death Day (2017) or Freaky (2020) in terms of writing or gruesome brutality, but there's enough chasing and slashing here to earn a watch, especially around the most wonderful time of the year! Warm from both bloodshed and tender moments, you can't go wrong with this one!

1 elderly male had his throat cut with a dagger
1 male impaled through the mouth with a cane
1 female stabbed and slashed to death with a dagger
1 male electrocuted to death with a live car battery
1 male found stabbed in the eye with a dagger
1 male hacked to death with an axe
1 female gutted with a dagger
1 male found pinned to a table with a knife through the neck
1 female stabbed in the back with a dagger
1 female stabbed to death with a dagger
1 male stabbed to death with a dagger
1 male stabbed in the chest with a broken broom handle
1 male stabbed in the gut with a dagger
1 male stabbed in the gut with a dagger
Total: 14