Knuckleball is a new thriller directed by Michael Peterson and starring Michael Ironside and Munro Chambers (both the stars of cult hit Turbo Kid). The film, marketed as an “R-rated Home Alone”, follows a boy who must fight to survive when targeted and alone on an isolated farm in the dead of winter. The film has played at festivals including the 2018 Fantasia Film Festival.
Ultimately, I felt like this film’s biggest problem was an overall lack of clarity. There were a few really great moments in the film, but those moments weren't connected by a narrative that was coherent or cohesive. At its most basic level, the film is a survival thriller, and it works at that. I'd say the comparison to Home Alone is a little bit much, as the portion of the film similar to that only takes up about ten minutes of the film's runtime. Instead, I'd say the film shares more in common with typical home invasion horror films. The film does a decent job of hitting all of the beats of the standard home invasion film and raises the stakes adequately by the third act. That being said, there are some elements in the film that just made it feel messy. For example, there are some subplots and parts of the backstory are never fully explained in a way that is confusing and unsatisfying. Additionally, I'd say that the film suffers from a lack of strong character development. That being said, the film's sporadic strong moments keep it entertaining and watchable.
The film's execution is pretty solid. There are some pretty interesting set-pieces, and some solid visuals. Much of the cinematography is strong, with great compositions used to build suspense or elicit fear from the audience. This is especially the case in the last half of the film, when the intensity ramps up and the horror-thriller elements begin. The score is great, too, with some very eerie points that accent the film quite well. Additionally, I thought that the cast was rather impressive. Michael Ironside's role is very mysterious, and he does a good job of capturing that feeling. In moments, he seems to provide a sense of false security to the film, which definitely works in its favor. Additionally, Munro Chambers delivers a strong performance in his role. He does a good job of being intimidating and yet also oddly charming at the same time, nailing the character's duplicitous qualities.
Overall, I didn't think that Knuckleball was a bad film, but it also could have been a lot stronger. The bones of a great film are there, but it just didn't fully deliver. Had the film been a little clearer and more coherent, I think it had the potential to be really strong.
Knuckleball hits select theaters and VOD October 5.
Big Tuna's Rating: C-
How Did I Watch It?: A press screener.
Had I Seen It Before?: No.
Would I Watch It Again?: Probably not.
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I look at films as if through old red and blue 3D glasses— one lens is as art, one lens is as entertainment.
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