Tag Archives: Cassandra Naud

You’re Beginning to Look a Lot Like Victims

It’s a Wonderful Knife

by Hope Madden

For some people, it’s not even Thanksgiving, let’s not get into Christmas movies quite yet, OK? Meanwhile, countless people have been binging Hallmark Christmas tales since July. And the rest of us are still stinging that Halloween is over.

By that math, 2/3 of all viewers will be pleased with It’s a Wonderful Knife, the Christmas story with all the feel-good cheer of the classics and all the bloody knifework of a solid slasher.

The title gives away the film’s core conceit, but honestly, it bore more of a resemblance to Dolly Parton’s 2020 holiday debacle – I mean, charmer – Christmas on the Square. One small town real estate tycoon (Justin Long) intends to turn a historic strip into a shopping and dining oasis, even if it means bullying kindly old Mr. Evans (William B. Davis) into selling his family home.

But wait! No time to think about that when a white clad, knife wielding maniac is on a tear! And all this in the first ten minutes of the movie. Fast forward one year and everyone’s pretty much over those murders, except Winnie (Jane Widdop). No one cares, no one notices, it wouldn’t even matter if she’d never been born (…never been born…never been born…).

Director Tyler MacIntyre (Tragedy Girls) and writer Michael Kennedy (Freaky) have some fun piling on the holiday film cliches. And there are plenty of reasons to enjoy their movie.

First of all, Justin Long. There are few people more reliably fun to see in a horror flick, and in this one he rocks a spray tan and fake teeth. So many bonus points.

Also fun, Joel McHale (Becky), who is somehow now the go-to for horror movie supportive dad with daughter issues. Add the always welcome Katharine Isabelle, and though she’s tragically underutilized, it’s great to see Cassandra Naud (who was phenomenal in Influencer).

The story itself, with its plot twists and turns, is not as clever as it pretends to be. It is wryly funny, though, and often quite sweet. It’s not as raucous as Kennedy’s Freaky nor as badass as MacIntyre’s Tragedy Girls, but it is a bloody slice of Christmas fun.

Follow You, Follow Me


by George Wolf

It’s taken awhile, but it seems more filmmakers have gotten a grip on how to handle this social media thing. Just last year, B.J. Novak’s Vengeance and Quinn Shephard’s Not Okay found smart and savvy new angles to explore, and now director/co-writer Kurtis David Harder does the same with Influencer.

Harder’s approach leans more Neo-noir thriller, as the cold and calculating CW (Cassandra Naud – outstanding) spins a dangerous web for an unsuspecting social butterfly.

Madison (Emily Tennant) is a media maven who is making sure her followers see nothing but an amazing trip to Thailand. But the real real is lonely and boring, thanks to a boyfriend who bailed on her and no friends in sight. So, Madison is only too happy to chat up fellow traveler CW, and to accept her offer for a tour of the most IG-ready spots around.

But there will be no friend requests, and Madison will be the only one posing. CW has no online presence at all, and in fact seems very insistent on avoiding photographs. Weird, right?

Maybe. Or maybe creepy. Suspicious, even.

Harder and cinematographer David Schuurman create an absolutely gorgeous pot for boiling this mystery. From atop deserted island beaches to below crystal clear waters and inside lavish vacation homes, Harder’s nimble camera and visual aesthetics reinforce the notion that pretty pictures don’t always tell the whole story.

And once Madison’s friend Jessica (Sara Canning) slides into these DMs, events take even more deliciously twisty turns, with CW scrambling to juggle her many different versions of just what Madison is doing and just why she is suddenly such a big part of it.

Naud sells it completely, evolving CW into a compelling combination of chameleon and parasite. She’s an absolutely in-the-moment creature, and Naud crafts the perfect vessel for Harder and co-writer Tesh Guttikonda to upend conventions while they pull at our cultural strands of misinformation, envy and objectification.

You won’t find the satirical humor that both Novak and Shephard wielded so effectively, but Harder’s approach is no less effective. With sharp dialogue, skillful plotting and simmering dread, Influencer is plenty worthy of that “Like” button.