Starring Michael Ironside, Munro Chambers, Luca Villacis
Directed by Michael Peterson
Well, it only took 10 freakin’ months to finally stumble upon that one flick that I’ve been waiting for, and damn was this worth the wait! I’m going to tell you right up front that Knuckleball might not appeal to the masses, and some of you could possibly even find this thriller not to your liking, but something about this presentation from director Michael Peterson had the blood and the balls to go with it…hence the name, duh.
Dropped off at the ranch-style home of his surly grandfather (played to chilling brilliance by Michael Ironside), young Henry (Villacis) is a child left to his own devices, both literally and figuratively while his parents attend a funeral. He whittles away the time hopping on his cell phone and playing games, but not before earning his keep at the demand of his grandpa – now it’s not to say that Ol’ Granddad is a ball-breaking prick by any stretch of the imagination – he just knows when there’s work to be done, and as long as he’s got an extra set of mitts…BOOM. Henry plugs away with the chores, even coming around to the point of making a real go at it, but when Grandpa kicks the bucket in the middle of the night, the young lad really finds himself all alone…or is he?
Seems that Dixon (Chambers), the weirder than weird next-door neighbor, was around when Henry went looking for assistance after finding his grandfather dead, and is at the ready to take Henry in until the storm outside calms down – STRANGER DANGER! This is where things begin to get the dust knocked off of them, and if you stuck it out for a somewhat lengthy 20+ minutes of character formation at the beginning of the movie, prepare to reap the benefits for the remainder!
The latter-half of Peterson’s white-knuckler is like a game of cat-and-mouse, and I’ve seen other reviewers call this a grittier version of Home Alone, and while I won’t necessarily disagree with the sentiment, I felt like this film took on a life of its own and tossed aside any comparative examples. For joke’s sake, if little Macauley Culkin was as violently resourceful as Henry was in this movie, there would’ve never been so many friggin sequels, am I right? Seriously, this kid has the chops to put a hurting on anyone that gets in his way, and although some of the instances are highly far-fetched as far as plausibility is concerned, it still adds up to some fun viewing for those who like defensive sadism. Visuals in the movie are strong, with the snowy woods playing the part of the captor, if you will – not allowing the actors to run amok and keeping them centrally located within a small area.
Now when it comes to the performances, all three of the lead characters took their portrayals to the edge, with Ironside, Villacis, and Chambers giving a sense of realism to their roles – maybe it’s just me, but when a film calls for a gruff bastard, look no further than Mr. Ironside. Villacis is only on his second role as of this movie but is a name that should be looked out for over time, and Chambers simply oozes sliminess – outstanding job by all. At the end of the day, if you’re in the mood for a thriller that will keep your buns frozen to your chair, might I suggest you step into the batter’s box and see if you can handle this Knuckleball.