Stephen King's Christmas Horror Movie Idea Is Great (But Can … – Screen Rant

Stephen King’s idea for a Christmas horror story subvert a festive classic beyond recognition but, unfortunately, his pitch wouldn’t work as a movie.
While Stephen King is right to say that a horror remix of It’s A Wonderful Life would be great, there is a good reason that the premise has never been attempted. Even though Christmas is typically depicted as a time of generosity, high spirits, and goodwill among men, there is a long tradition of horror stories set during the festive season. From the iconic Charles Dickens story “A Christmas Carol” to the influential proto-slasher Black Christmas, the yuletide season has long been the setting of some truly creepy tales.
As such, it is no surprise that horror legend Stephen King came up with a Christmas-themed horror story. Just as The Mean One offered a Grinch retelling for horror fans, King took to Twitter to share his idea for another gory remix of a classic Christmas movie. While King’s morbid pitch is a compelling one and could work as a killer yuletide horror story, unfortunately, there is no way that his twisted spin on a festive classic will ever be made into a movie for numerous reasons. King argued that It’s A Wonderful Life would be a great horror movie but, alas, this is unlikely to ever happen.
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Prompted by a fan asking whether he had ever considered writing a horror spin on the festive classic, King sardonically noted that “At the end of IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, Jimmy Stewart appears to have gone crazy and is about the murder his whole family. He’s just got that look.” While Violent Night turned a killer Santa into box-office gold recently, this dark spin on It’s A Wonderful Life would arguably be an even more subversive bit of festive horror. After all, It’s A Wonderful Life is already an infamously dark movie that opens with Jimmy Stewart’s beleaguered hero on the verge of suicide, so switching this homicide could be truly chilling.
The reason that a horror spin on It’s A Wonderful Life wouldn’t work is the same thing that makes the idea so compelling in the first place, it’s simply too dark. While It’s A Wonderful Life works as a classic Christmas movie, it is punishingly bleak (as far as mainstream Hollywood family movies go, that is) for much of its lengthy runtime. Many Stephen King adaptations struggle with the author’s infamously long stories, and It’s A Wonderful Life’s plot is not one that needs further padding. The majority of the movie is shockingly sad upon a re-watch, right up until the optimistic ending, meaning a horror version wouldn’t work.
A version of It’s A Wonderful Life where the hero loses his mind and goes on a killing spree could potentially work if it was a dark satire like director Brian Yuzna’s The Dentist or Mary Harron’s American Psycho. However, those movies work because their protagonists are amoral yuppies who live in a hell of their own making, not ordinary working-class heroes struggling to get by. Seeing the hero of It’s A Wonderful Life kill his family is funny as an edgy joke, but committing this to film would just make for a relentlessly downbeat movie. The slasher movie trend of turning something sweet and wholesome into something scary doesn't apply, since the original movie is already dark.
In his lengthy oeuvre, King still has not set any major works around Christmas. This might be because of the issues outlined above, as the perennial popularity of holiday horror means the sub-genre has already been explored by plenty of other authors. It could be because the focus on family seen in much of King’s work would be too on-the-nose if it was set during the festive season (for example, the snow-coated The Shining is a wintry story, but setting the story of a family falling apart over Christmas could be too obvious). Finally, this missing horror trope could be justified by King’s own feelings on the holidays, as the author might not care much about Christmas as a setting.
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Whatever the reason, King has yet to stage a major work at Christmas. Unfortunately, his horror spin on It’s A Wonderful Life is not likely to be the first project he does write around the holiday, since it is unlikely to work as a movie or a novel. However, only time will tell, and Stephen King may yet prove that It’s A Wonderful Life can be a terrifying tale in the right hands after all.
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Cathal Gunning has been writing about movies and TV online since 2020. His obsessions include The Simpsons, Stephen King, the Scream series, and the horror genre in general. He has spent more time thinking about Stranger Things than the writers of Stranger Things, and he has never seen a Star War.


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