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Actress Jane Widdop on Xmas Slasher ‘It’s A Wonderful Knife’ [Interview]

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It's a Wonderful Knife

It’s A Wonderful Knife is a fun, albeit twisted, take on Frank Capra’s 1947 holiday classic, It’s a Wonderful Life. We all know the story. Good ol’ George Bailey’s problems start adding up, and he wonders if the town would have been better off without him. As he considers jumping from a bridge, an angel appears, showing him what things would be like if he hadn’t been around to do all his good deeds, and ultimately leaving him with a new lease on life. It’s a sincerely touching story. A true cinematic gem that will live on for generations to come. 

‘It’s A Wonderful Knife’ is not that kind of film. It won’t cause you to think deeply about your life, or bring you some moral epiphany in any way, shape, or form. It’s a bloody slasher film with a clever twist, that’s here to do one thing, and one thing only. Entertain horror fans for the holidays. You can read the synopsis below:

“Winnie’s life is less than wonderful one year after saving her town from a psychotic killer on Christmas Eve. When she wishes she was never born, she finds herself magically transported to a nightmarish parallel universe. With the murderous maniac now back, she must team up with a misfit to identify the culprit and get back to her own reality.”

It's A Wonderful Knife
It’s A Wonderful Knife Movie Poster

Written by Michael Kennedy and directed by Tyler MacIntyre, ‘It’s A Wonderful Knife’ stars Jane Widdop (Yellowjackets), Joel McHale (Deliver Us from Evil), and genre stalwart Justin Long (Barbarian). Recently, we had the opportunity to chat with Jane about their leading role, and the film in general! 

Actress Jane Widdop

iHorror: Hi, Jane. How are you doing?

I’m good, how are you, Joshua?

I’m good! Pleasure to speak with you. So, you have a movie coming out, IT’S A WONDERFUL KNIFE!

I do, I do. A lovely play on words!

What can you tell us about it? Without spoiling too much. 

Winnie is a teenage girl, and you would think everything is great in her life. She loves photography, she wants to go to NYU. She’s at a Christmas party with all of her best friends and the whole school, and it ends up that her best friend is attacked by this crazy serial killer dressed up in an angel costume. I end up running after her because I want to save her, and the angel comes after me. My brother and I chase it and fight it off, and I kill him. 

Fast forward a year later, Winnie is super depressed, PTSD, but it seems like everybody else has just moved on, and are just living their lives and I’m still stuck in the past where I was a year ago. Things really go downhill for Winnie, she makes a wish, and surprise, surprise- she ends up in an alternate reality, and has to defeat the killer, yet again.

The film also stars Justin Long, and Joel McHale. What was it like working with them?

It was so good. Both of these actors are so crazy funny, and crazy good, and are both veterans in their field. It was just amazing to watch. Everything is a bit with Joel. He could be drinking water, and it could be a bit. It’s just how he is. So, it was really cool to see what bits he used for this character, and he was so dad mode. That’s just Joel. He has so many good zingers. 

Justin is just so good. He’s so immersive in every character that  he plays. He uses the costumes, the veneers, the wig, everything, to influence the character. Being able to watch that was so, so cool. This man can go off for days, just on a random topic while in character. It was so cool to be able to watch.  Also, Catherine Isabelle is an amazing horror icon. She was incredible to work with. 

What was the vibe like on set, did you all get along?

Oh, for sure. I feel like we were all a little family. It was the most team-like set that I’ve ever been on. We really all worked together, and wanted everything to be at its best. We gave 110% every single day, and that was really cool to be a part of, to feel like this little unit. 

It’s funny, Joel and Justin never met before. With all their circles you would think they might have met. As soon as they met they were like instant best friends. 

When the whole cast and the director vibe, and everybody gets along, it gives another dimension to the film. 

It does. We were having our producers and director and wonderful writer in the greenroom with us between takes, eating food with us, or telling a story, or going over the script again. It was cool that they were so hands on. It allowed for us to be like, what if I do it this way, or put in this line? They were always so receptive.

The film is a nice little play on the classic , It’s a Wonderful Life. Did you watch that before filming to brush up on it?

Oh, yeah. I’ve seen it. It was one of those (films) my family always put on during the holidays, but I watched it probably five, or six times for this. Also, just because I loved it so much, it was nice to have an excuse to be able to watch it so many times. It’s one of my girlfriend’s favorite films, so it was nice that we cozy up in the middle of March and watch a Christmas film. 

Okay, so if you had to sell us the movie in one sentence, what would you say?

You should watch it because it has a heartwarming gooey center, which not a lot of films have. Also, it’s really queer, which not a lot of films have. 

Awesome! I do have one more question for you, Jane. A lot of people know you as Laura Lee  from Yellowjackets. What was that experience like?

That was so good! It’s crazy. When I first read the pilot, that was fall 2019, and I was seventeen years old at the time, the same age as Laura Lee. That was really cool, to feel like I was in those shoes, at that time. Obviously, it wasn’t in the ’90s. (Laughing.) Once we got picked up and we were in Canada, that was the first time I ever lived away from home for that long. All of them really took me under their wing. All of the other Yellowjackets. The one who’s the next oldest up from me is Sophie Thatcher, and she’s, like, 23. 

So, there was a bit of a jump, and I felt so loved and appreciated, even though I was the baby. I was expecting to be shunned, but I wasn’t. I was taken in, and felt like I was at home. I loved the script, ever since I read the pilot I was on board. I loved the mystery of it. I loved that Laura Lee was able to have this really strong, brave moment in season one, because I was supposed to die in the plane crash. 

I was really just grateful for every day that I was able to be on set. I loved how they were able to do flashbacks so well. I think that’s really hard to do and they nailed it. The soundtrack is amazing. Everything about the show is amazing, and being able to do it when I was young, and just being able to have that experience – I’ll remember it for the rest of my life. I’m so grateful for that. 

We really appreciate your time, Jane! Thank you so much!

You can catch Jane in IT’S A WONDERFUL KNIFE, streaming December 1st on Shudder, AMC+, and VOD, courtesy of RLJE Films!

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‘MONOLITH’ Director Matt Vesely on Crafting the Sci-Fi Thriller – Out on Prime Video Today [Interview]

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MONOLITH, the new sci-fi thriller starring Lily Sullivan (Evil Dead Rise) is set to hit theatres and VOD on February 16th! Written by Lucy Campbell, and directed by Matt Vesely, the film was shot in one location, and stars only one person. Lily Sullivan. This basically puts the entire film on her back, but after Evil Dead Rise, I think she’s up to the task! 

 Recently, we had the chance to chat with Matt Vesely about directing the film, and the challenges behind its creation! Read our interview after the trailer below:

Monolith Official Trailer

iHorror: Matt, thanks for your time! We wanted to chat about your new film, MONOLITH. What can you tell us, without spoiling too much? 

Matt Vesely: MONOLITH is a science-fiction thriller about a podcaster, a disgraced journalist who worked for a big news outlet and has recently had a job taken away from her when she acted unethically. So, she’s retreated to her parent’s home and started this kind of clickbaity, mystery podcast to try and claw her way back to some credibility. She receives a strange email, an anonymous email, that just gives her a phone number and a woman’s name and says, the black brick. 

She ends up in this strange rabbit hole, finding about these weird, alien artifacts that are appearing around the world and starts to lose herself in this possibly true, alien invasion story. I guess the hook of the film is that there’s only one actor on screen. Lily Sullivan. It’s all told through her perspective, through her speaking to people on the phone, lots of interviews holed up in this palatial, modern home in the beautiful Adelaide Hills. It’s kind of a creepy, one person, X-Files episode.

Director Matt Vesely

What was it like working with Lily Sullivan?

She’s brilliant!  She’d just come off of Evil Dead. It hadn’t come out yet, but they had shot it. She brought a lot of that physical energy from Evil Dead to our film, even though it’s very contained. She likes to work from within her body, and generate real adrenaline. Even before she does a scene, she’ll do pushups before the shot to try and build up the adrenaline. It’s really fun and interesting to watch. She’s just super down to earth. We didn’t audition her because we knew her work. She’s extremely talented, and has an amazing voice, which is great for a podcaster. We just talked to her on Zoom to see if she would be up for making a smaller film. She’s like one of our mates now. 

Lily Sullivan in Evil Dead Rise

What was it like making a film that’s so contained? 

In some ways, it’s quite freeing. Obviously, it’s a challenge to work out ways to make it thrilling and make it change and grow throughout the film. The cinematographer, Mike Tessari and I, we broke the film into clear chapters and had really clear visual rules. Like in the opening of the film, it has no picture for three or four minutes. It’s just black, then we see Lily. There’s clear rules, so you feel the space, and the visual language of the film growing and changing to make it feel like you’re going on this cinematic ride, as well as an intellectual audio ride. 

So, there’s lots of challenges like that. In other ways, it’s my first feature, one actor, one location, you’re really focused. You don’t have to spread yourself too thin. It’s a really contained way to work. Every choice is about how to make that one person seem on screen. In some ways, it’s a dream. You’re just being creative, you’re never just fighting to get the film made, it’s purely creative. 

So, in some ways, it was almost a benefit rather than a drawback?

Exactly, and that was always the theory of the film. The film was developed through a Film Lab process here in South Australia called The Film Lab New Voices Program. The idea was we went in as a team, we went in with the writer Lucy Campbell and producer Bettina Hamilton, and we went into this lab for a year and you develop a script from the ground up for a fixed budget. If you’re successful, you get the money to go make that film. So, the idea was always to come up with something that would feed that budget, and almost be better for it. 

If you could say one thing about the film, something you wanted people to know, what would it be?

It’s a really exciting way to watch a sci-fi mystery, and the fact that it’s Lily Sullivan, and she’s just a brilliant, charismatic force on the screen. You’ll love spending 90 minutes sort of losing your mind with her, I think. The other thing is that it really escalates. It feels very contained, and it has a kind of slow burn, but it goes somewhere. Stick with it. 

With this being your first feature, tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from, what are your plans? 

I’m from Adelaide, South Australia. It’s probably the size of Phoenix, that size of a city. We’re about an hour flight west of Melbourne. I’ve been working here for a while. I’ve worked mostly in script development for television, for the last  like 19 years. I’ve always loved sci-fi and horror. Alien is my favorite movie of all time. 

I’ve made a number of shorts, and they are sci-fi shorts, but they’re more comedy. This was an opportunity to get into scarier stuff. I realized doing it that it’s all I really care about. It was kind of like coming home. It felt paradoxically so much more fun trying to be scary than trying to be funny, which is painful and miserable. You can be bolder and stranger, and just go for it in horror. I absolutely loved it. 

So, we’re just developing more stuff. At the moment the team is developing another, kind of, cosmic horror that’s in its early days. I just finished up on a script for a dark Lovecraftian horror film. It’s writing time at the moment, and hopefully getting onto the next film. I still work in TV. I’ve been writing pilots and stuff. It’s the ongoing grind of the industry, but hopefully we’ll be back really soon with another film from the Monolith team. We’ll get Lily back in, the whole crew. 

Awesome. We really appreciate your time, Matt. We’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for you and your future endeavors! 

You can check out Monolith in theaters and on Prime Video February 16th! Courtesy of Well Go USA! 

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Unveiling ‘Lisa Frankenstein’: Interview with Director Zelda Williams and Writer Diablo Cody

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Lisa Frankenstein

Focus Features presents a coming-of-RAGE love story from acclaimed writer Diablo Cody (Jennifer’s Body) about a misunderstood teenager and her high school crush, who happens to be a handsome corpse. After a set of playfully horrific circumstances bring him back to life, the two embark on a murderous journey to find love, happiness… and a few missing body parts along the way. Lisa Frankenstein hits theaters just in time for Valentine’s Day, on February 9th, 2024.

Director Zelda Williams and Screenwriter Diablo Cody on the set of their film LISA FRANKENSTEIN, a Focus Features release. Credit: Mason Novick / ©Mason Novick

 iHorror had the chance to have a quick candid conversation with Director Zelda Williams & Writer Diablo Cody, where we discussed the challenges of directing, writing inspiration and the planning, the collaboration process, and whether there is a sequel currently planned for Lisa Frankenstein.

Interview: Director Zelda Williams & Writer Diablo Cody

ZELDA WILLIAMS – Director

Zelda Williams, a multifaceted artist, is making waves across the entertainment industry as an actress, director, producer, and writer. Her journey of diversification and evolution in various facets of her career is evident in her upcoming feature-length directorial debut, Lisa Frankenstein.

Lisa Frankenstein In Theaters February 9th, 2024

Previously, Williams showcased her talents in Acting for a Cause’s live performance of Julius Caesar, where donations benefited amfAR. She also made her mark in the drama short film A Disagreement About Flies and demonstrated her directorial skills in the comedy/horror short film Kappa Kappa Die. In 2016, Williams lent her voice to and co-produced Freeform’s The Letter and graced the screen in the Lifetime drama Girl in the Box and Freeform’s drama/horror series Dead of Summer. Her recurring role in MTV’s Teen Wolf and her contribution to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles TV series added to her diverse on-screen portfolio.

Williams has left a lasting impact in the world of film, starring in productions such as “Never,” the award-winning gay satire Were the World Mine, and various independent films like Don’t Look UpDetentionLusterThe Frankenstein Brothers, and A Beer Tale. Her cinematic debut at 14 in David Duchovny’s House of D marked the beginning of a promising career, sharing the screen with Tea Leoni and Robin Williams.

Beyond acting, Williams is a talented singer and artist, showcasing her creativity in 2015 by directing JoJo’s Save My Soul music video, which garnered nearly 4.5 million views on YouTube. In addition to her artistic pursuits, Williams inherited her father’s knack for accents and impressions, being conversational in French. Currently residing in Los Angeles, CA, Zelda Williams continues to captivate audiences with her diverse talents and creative endeavors.

Kathryn Newton stars as Lisa Swallows in LISA FRANKENSTEIN, a Focus Features release. Credit: Michele K. Short / © 2024 FOCUS FEATURES LLC

DIABLO CODY – Screenwriter & Producer

Diablo Cody stands as an accomplished and award-winning screenwriter whose debut film, Juno, secured prestigious honors such as the Academy Award® for Best Original Screenplay, the BAFTA Award for Best Original Screenplay, the Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay, and the Writers Guild Award for Best Original Screenplay. Her illustrious career extends to several critically acclaimed films, including Young AdultTully, and the now-cult classic Jennifer’s Body.

In collaboration with Steven Spielberg, Cody co-created the Emmy Award®-winning series United States of Tara, which enjoyed a successful three-season run on Showtime. Additionally, she contributed to One Mississippi for Amazon alongside Tig Notaro. Cody’s versatility extends beyond screenwriting, as evidenced by her Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, Jagged Little Pill, a compelling adaptation of Alanis Morissette’s seminal album of the same name. Her remarkable achievements underscore her position as a creative force with a diverse and impactful body of work.

Kathryn Newton stars as Lisa Swallows and Cole Sprouse as The Creature in LISA FRANKENSTEIN, a Focus Features release. Credit: Michele K. Short / © 2024 FOCUS FEATURES LLC

Feature Image Credit / Description: Director Zelda Williams and Screenwriter Diablo Cody on the set of their film LISA FRANKENSTEIN, a Focus Features release. Credit: Mason Novick / ©Mason Novick

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Filmmaker P.J. Starks Talks ‘New Fear’s Eve’ [Video Interview]

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Filmmaker PJ Starks was born and raised in Owensboro, Kentucky, and became interested in film at an early age. Several years back, we spoke to Starks about his films Volumes of Blood and Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories. Since then, Starks has been a part of some awesome films, such as Close Calls, the 10/31 series, 13 Slays of Xmas, and his newest feature, New Fear’s Eve. Co-directing the film with Eric Huskisson, Starks also serves as producer, writer, and editor. The film stars Dave Sheridan, Felissa Rose, and Hannah Fierman.

New Fear’s Eve

“As the coming year approaches, three best friends reluctantly prepare for Hooper Industries’ annual New Year’s Eve bash. The clock ticks down, and the body count rises as a psychotic murderer known as The Doctor is on the loose. This sadistic surgeon of death leaves Owensboro covered in blood as local police and FBI are forced to navigate through a maze of bodies left in his wake. Unbeknownst to the three best friends, their mandatory party is about to turn deadly when the killer sets his sights on them. December 31 becomes a party to die for when Leslie, Brian, Moses, and their colleagues are trapped inside an inescapable building with a bloodthirsty madman hellbent on carving his way to midnight.” Sounds fun, right?

New Fear’s Eve

We start the New Year by catching up with Starks, speaking to him about New Fear’s Eve and what he has in the pipeline for 2024! Enjoy!

PJ Starks Interview

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