Movie Review: Knuckleball (2018)

October 1, 2018

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, director, producer, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

Young Henry (Luca Villacis) is dropped off by his parents for the weekend at his grandpa Jacob’s (Michael Ironside) farm. Things go just peachy as the duo toss baseballs around and do projects around the farm…I mean what could possibly go wrong? Well, gramps dies one night for one thing…so that’s a fuckin’ bummer, but then Henry seeks help from his next door neighbor, a shady as fuck dude named Dixon (Munro Chambers), who just so happens to have had some weird relationship to Jacob. Things go from bad to even more bad as Dixon pulls out all the stops to keep Henry from learning some deep, dark family secret…which he’s more than willing to kill the boy to protect.
The main thing that sells Knuckleball is the strength of it’s performances. Villacis is a fine actor, especially given his age, and he manages to be likable and (thankfully) not annoying like so many kids in fright flicks…and Chambers is as masterful at being a truly sinister presence as Ironside is at being grizzled and just absolutely awesome (as is his way).
Adding to the ambiance of the piece is the farm itself; a fantastic, isolated location surrounded by vast, snow covered fields, which director Michael Peterson manages to milk for all it’s worth…even drawing comparisons to that other snowbound horror biz fav The Shining which he homages more than once. Also this film is a great example in how to do a slow burn thriller with the perfect acceleration of suspense…things start of slow in Act One, but by times Act Two kicks into high gear, the sense of impending doom and dread is palpable…then when Henry has to protect himself we have a killer paradigm shift where things become like a very grim, very unfunny, but totally rad Home Alone style affair…and then we get smashed with some story twists!
What more can I say? Knuckleball is a completely suspense filled fright flick that takes tropes from all over the map and combines them into one hell of a nail bitin’, terrifyin’ time in the ol’ horror biz!


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