REVIEW: The Ice Cream Truck (2017)

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You may never think of the suburbs again in this indie thriller from filmmaker Megan Freels Johnston.

Mary has moved back to her suburban hometown after her husband finds a job that allows her to return home. However, her husband and children have to finish up things for two days before joining Mary. Upon returning home, Mary notices an ice cream truck driving on the streets. At first, Mary finds it strange that a nostalgic ice cream truck is in town. Yet, she ignores it and is welcomed by neighbors Jessica, Katie, and Christina, the latter who invites Mary to a graduation party for her son Max.

At the party, Max and Mary hit it off and bond, yet she reassures him that she is married in case he tries to pull anything. Meanwhile, the ice cream man slowly emerges and invites Max’s girlfriend Tracy to see what ice cream he has to offer. As she hops into the back and looks, the ice cream man kills her. The next day, Mary hires Max and his friends to do some yard work but when one of them leaves to get with his girlfriend, the ice cream man shows up and offers the friend two cones. Soon enough, the ice cream man begins a killing spree and Mary soon realizes that she may be the next victim. Will she be able to stop the murderous ice cream man before her family comes to town?

This indie horror film is quite an interesting combination of slasher film and say, Lifetime movie. It certainly has the tone of a Lifetime movie and an interesting story about a woman who returns home but must wait for her husband and kids to come. Things get creepy from the outset not only with the arrival of the ice cream man, but a very creepy delivery man who brings her furniture. Then as if that’s not creepy enough, she meets the neighbors who try to take advantage of her two days of “freedom”.

Deanna Russo brings out quite an interesting performance as the timid Mary, who finds herself either creeped out or at times, unsure of what to do when it comes to facing decisions. And it is interesting in the sense that she plays it out like a normal human being. It other words, it all seems natural rather than forced. The character of Max, played by John Redlinger, seems to have that Lifetime creepy vibe as the 18-year old graduate who seems to have a crush on Mary and attempts to use that to his full advantage despite constant rebuffing from her.

However, the standout of the film is Emil Johnsen, who brings complete creepiness with such subtlety in the role of the ice cream man. Decked out in the classic white suit with bowtie in the classic manner, Johnsen’s delivery brings sheer delight in the very creepy role. It is like he chooses his potential victims at random and usually brandishes a knife to do his dirty work yet in one scene that could be deemed in the horror film as inventive, he proceeds to beat the heck out of a victim using only an ice cream scoop until they are dead. However, by the film’s finale, the overall result will leave you thinking until it finally hits you as to why this ice cream man has been doing his bidding.

The Ice Cream Truck is a tense thriller that takes the Lifetime movie genre and adds a serious twist with the slasher genre, all driven by the natural performance of lead Deanna Russo and Emil Johnsen as the creepy ice cream man. The finale will leave you wondering and hits you in the gut.

WFG RATING: A-

Uncork’d Entertainment presents a Look at Me Films production in association with O’Hughes Entertainment. Director: Megan Freels Johnston. Producers: Megan Freels Johnston, Yumee Jang, and Omid Shamsoddini. Writer: Megan Freels Johnston. Cinematography: Stephen Tringali. Editing: Eric Potter.

Cast: Deanna Russo, Emil Johnsen, John Redlinger, Hilary Barraford, Lisa Ann Walter, Jeff Daniel Phillips, Sam Schweikert, Bailey Anne Borders, Dana Gaier, LaTease Towns-Cuellar, Brett Johnston, Miles Johnston.

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