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5 Horrific Questions with 'It’s a Wonderful Knife's' Michael Kennedy

Hana Huggins as Cara Evans in the horror film, It's a Wonderful Knife, an RLJE Films and Shudder release. Photo courtesy of RLJE Films and Shudder. >>>

In the late '90s, 16-year-old Michael Kennedy ventured into a theater with his friends to watch Scream, a movie he never expected to enjoy. Little did he know that this irreverent horror film would become a life-changing experience, sparking his fascination with filmmaking, horror movies, and the endless story possibilities available through the genre.

Then, in 2020, Kennedy captivated audiences with his feature debut, Freaky, co-written with Christopher Landon. The darkly humorous and thrilling twist on Freaky Friday brought together horror, humor, and heart in a unique cinematic blend. The film garnered attention for its unconventional mix of laughs, jump scares, and, of course, buckets of blood.

Now the North Olmsted, Ohio, native is sending up another classic with It’s a Wonderful Knife. Kennedy’s new film finds main character Winnie Carruthers’ life less than wonderful, even a year after she saved her town from a psychotic killer on Christmas Eve.

But when she wishes she’d never been born, fate throws Winnie into a nightmarish parallel universe. There she discovers that without her, things could be much, much worse. The killer is back, and Winnie must team up with the town misfit to identify the killer and get back to her own reality.

 The frightfully fun film stars Jane Widdop (Yellowjackets), Joel McHale (Community), and Justin Long (Goosebumps). 
Kennedy serves as producer and screenwriterThe movie premieres Nov. 10.

We're thrilled Kennedy agreed to take on our 5 Horrific Questions. What a Halloween treat! And if you want to read more about Kennedy’s journey from Northeast Ohio to Los Angeles and the movie biz, check out What’s so ‘Freaky’ about screenwriter Michael Kennedy?

Jane Widdop as Winnie Carruthers in the horror film, It's a Wonderful Knife, an RLJE Films and Shudder release. Photo courtesy of RLJE Films and Shudder.
5 Horrific Questions with Michael Kennedy

What makes a movie scary?

What makes Knife scary - besides the serial killer, the jump scares, and the chase sequences? 

It's how lonely Christmas can feel sometimes.

Studies often find it's the time when many people feel the most depressed. We explore that in the film.

That’s one of the scarier aspects of the movie. It can be so emotionally terrifying to feel so alone on what is normally considered a joyous day. For me, that is the scariest part of the movie.

What movie frightens you the most?

I would have to say The Exorcist. That movie is so scary. 

I still find it scary, even though I’ve seen it one hundred times. It’s perfect in every way. The mother/daughter relationship of it makes it scary, the loss of innocence makes it scary. It’s just got so many things working for it that make it so terrifying.

Who is your horror inspiration?

Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson are why I got into the film business. Scream was life-changing for me. There’s no other way to put it. It made me want to be a filmmaker at 16.

My other inspiration is Chris Landon. He started out as a mentor while we were working on Freaky, and we’ve turned into true collaborators. We’re doing a bunch of stuff together right now, in addition to our solo work.

I still look up to him. He gives me a lot of guidance, still, which is great. I’m really lucky.

Why do we like to be scared?

Because it’s amazing! 

It releases tension and anxiety. It releases stress. Science shows us how being scared in a movie theater or while watching a movie at home actually makes us happier people.

I also think we love it because it’s safe. There’s no danger. We know whatever we’re experiencing is going to end. It’s not going to impact us physically.

It’s really therapeutic.

What movie or book would you want to turn into a horror movie? And how would you do it?

I can’t think of a specific movie or book off the top of my head, but what I’d like to do is turn a romantic comedy into a horror movie. You know, satirize the rom-com through horror.

Editor's note with apologies to Mr. Kennedy: 'When Harry Killed Sally'? 'How to Murder a Guy in 10 Days'? 'Four Funerals and a Murder'? So much opportunity ...


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