Michael Ironside is a legend, nobody can deny that. He’s done everything from flying with Tom Cruise in Top Gun to providing the voice of Tom Clancy’s Sam Fisher in the Splinter Cell video game series and everything in between. But if I’m honest with you, what made want to see Knuckleball was Munro Chambers. And if you don’t know who Munro Chambers is by now, you will.
From award-winning director Michael Peterson, Knuckleball follows Luca Villacis’s, Henry as he’s dropped off by his parents to his grandfather, Ironside’s Jacob’s, isolated farm, for the weekend. The weekend is going well until Jacob suddenly dies and Henry rushes to the neighbor, Chambers’ Dixon, for help. Only to realize something else is going on when Dixon tries to stop kill Henry.
Knuckleball is what a good thriller needs to be, tight and simple. Michael Peterson smartly crafts a love letter to Stephen King by establishing a strong feeling of isolation with some utterly gorgeous opening shots of the Canadian countryside around Jacob’s farmhouse, the tight crawl spaces you find in an old country farmhouse, washed out color pallets, and a score that’s very ‘Storm of the Century’. Peterson relies heavily on Dixon and Henry to take the atmosphere and Villacis and Chambers deliver.
Despite an extremely talented cast, Ironside still proves that he can still bring the intensity that made him a legend. But it’s Chambers and Villacis that take what Ironside started and finish the job. Chambers, having exploded into Canadian fame with 2015’s Turbokid proves that he shines just as easily as a villain as he does the hero. What he brought to the role of Dixon that was truly unique was how he held his cards close to his chest. He left you guessing the entire time with what Dixon’s intentions would be. Villacis, despite only having begun his career shows a unique talent not found in a lot of child actors, you want to watch him. Think the Stranger Things cast meets… well, Michael Ironside. This is a kid that took every bit of intensity one of the best that Canadian talent currently has and didn’t budge.
Peterson uses the violence in this film well and uses it to build his tension in a very organic way. To Peterson’s credit, he chooses his moments to use violence and the man chose those moments well. You get the sense Peterson isn’t trying to reinvent the well here. And it comes across with Knuckleball and the feeling of those Stephen King movies from the 90’s. Peterson isn’t trying to win awards, he’s trying to entertain his audience. And he succeeds. Knuckleball is well worth 4 out of 5 stars and is damn good example of what a Canadian film can be.