Film Review: ‘The Ice Cream Truck’ (2017)

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Stars: Deanna Russo, Emil Johnsen, John Redlinger
Director: Megan Freels Johnston
Distributor: Jinga Films / Danse Macabre

“Welcome to the neighbourhood, Mary.”

One thing that horror films tend to successfully mirror from real life is that one should never return to their hometown to live there. The Ice Cream Truck perfects this. From writer-director Megan Freels Johnston, this is a female-driven horror film which is completely masterful in its trickery of expectation, if not a little risky in its execution. The Ice Cream Truck is a film which will live or die dependent on how it is read and interpreted. 

Mary (Deanna Russo), a writer, returns to her suburban hometown to start a new life with her husband and two children. Her return, however, is instantly suspicious and problematic with its array of nosey, generally strange neighbours, and an extraordinarily creepy delivery guy with a desire to help with more than just her boxes. Whilst waiting for her husband and kids still in Seattle, yet to make the move, Mary finds herself invited to a neighbour’s evening BBQ party for their son’s school graduation. Bumping into the graduate, Max (John Redlinger), on the way to the party, this chance encounter not only entails adequate amounts of weed, but the genesis of a challenging friendship, all under the lurking eye of a murderous ice cream man, serving up youthful corpses as well as tasty treats. 

From the outside, The Ice Cream Truck has the suggestion that the film centres itself around its villainous Ice Cream Man (Emil Johnsen) and projects from within his viewpoint, however, that isn’t what’s being served. Instead, the Ice Cream Man is the ultimate background figure. He just appears now and again. Because his presence or backstory isn’t detailed nor explained for that matter, a great ambiance of ambiguity and curiosity is established under the creativity of Johnston. But from another perspective, because the Ice Cream Man and his actions bear no obvious reasoning – other than to kill horny youth – unless one examines the character on a metaphorical basis, there can seem to be a greatly disjointed narrative present, and overwhelming confusion in relation to his relevance amongst story lead by Mary. Though, if anything, the question, “Why do killers kill?” can be applicable in both film and the real world.  

The presence of the successful collaboration between actor and director in The Ice Cream Truck is fundamental towards the film achieving its terrifically atmospheric and progressive existence. Though her character may seem flawed, Deanna Russo is utterly fantastic in the role. Additionally, the whole creepy neighbourhood vibe is always great to witness, even with its familiarity, or (biased) inferiority to The ‘Burbs. The off-beat suggestion that the weird neighbours may know something regarding this almost ghost-like Ice Cream Man reminisces with the parents in A Nightmare on Elm Street too. A clear love of horror cinema shines through here.

Ultimately, though narrowly leaning towards a primary existence as a suspenseful thriller, The Ice Cream Truck manages to transcend into an explicit horror when necessary. Despite an infrequent presentation of gory violence, when the goods are on show, the vulgarity displaced is on another level when compared to other horror films, even if the notoriety may have a comedic edge.

The Ice Cream Truck is available now on DVD in the UK. Many thanks to Jinga Films / Danse Macabre for the pleasure of this film.

3 Stars

Dom.

For John.


This article’s featured image: By Source, Jinga Films, Fair Use http://jingafilms.com/movies/ice-cream-truck/#pglightbox/0/

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