Headed to a funeral, Mary and Paul (Kathleen Munroe and Chenier Hundal) leave their young son Henry (Luca Villacis) in the hands of his grandfather Jacob (Ironside). Deposited on the rural farm Henry is without the essentials of his millennial life, videogames and a working cell phone. Put to work outside, Henry begrudgingly does his chores, shows an ability with a baseball and meets oddball neighbour Dixon (Munro Chambers). Grandpa says he’s “almost like family” but there is something strained between the two men. Henry’s uneasy rural retreat turns to terror when he looks to Dixon for help after he is left alone in Jacob’s house, miles from anywhere with a storm—literally and metaphorically—brewing.
“Knuckleball” is a story of survival pared down to the essentials. The remote setting, the icy atmosphere and Ironside’s menacing presence create a sense of dread that blossom throughout. The cat and mouse story has gaps and some unnecessary twists but the undercurrent of fear, driven by a strong performance from Villacis that is both vulnerable and resourceful, prevails. It’s a story of secrets and cruelty carefully crafted to accentuate the thrills and not the plot holes.