Fantasia 2018: Knuckleball

A 12 year old boy struggles to survive a trip to his grandfather’s farm in Knuckleball. Despite some apprehension from his mother Mary (Kathleen Munroe), 12 year old Henry (Luca Villacis) is dropped off at the farm of his grandfather Jacob (Michael Ironside), while Henry’s parents go to a funeral. Despite being relatively estranged from the family, Jacob quickly forms a bond with Henry over their mutual love of baseball. However, things take a dark turn with the arrival of creepy neighbour Dixon (Munro Chambers), who holds an apparent grudge against Henry and knows a dark secret about the family.

Seven years after making his feature film debut with the larping comedy Lloyd the Conqueror, director Michael Peterson heads into much darker territory with Knuckleball. At the centre of the film is 12 year old Henry, who is left with his grandfather Jacob, despite the fact that his father harbors painful memories of a previous tragedy that happened on the farm. When Henry unexpectedly finds himself on his own, he has to protect himself from psychopathic neighbour Dixon, who holds a personal vendetta against Henry.

For lack of a better description, Knuckleball is a quite dark take of the Home Alone premise, since Henry has to use available resources to fight back against Dixon. However, Knuckleball does dive a bit deeper than that simple description and there is a shocking, yet somewhat predictable, third act revelation that will leave you rethinking the relationship between Henry and Jacob from the first act of the film. Overall, Knuckleball is probably one of the better executed “kid in peril” horror films.