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The Ice Cream Truck (2017) Review

Sinister ice cream man is looking for victims in this curious thriller.

The Ice Cream Truck is a 2017 dark comedy/horror movie about a woman who moves back to her suburban hometown, only to find that the suburbs are scarier in more ways than she ever remembered.

The great American suburban nightmare is alive and kicking in Megan Freels Johnston‘s latest The Ice Cream Truck, a creepy dark comedy with a savage heart that isn’t looking to reinvent the wheel per se but play out its grim fairy tale in slow steady beats. More a commentary on the zaniness of living in a tight community and being a young mother in contemporary society than a slasher flick, it’s a curiously twisted experience that is as puzzling as it is entertaining.

When Mary (Deanna Russo), a struggling writer, moves into the neighborhood ahead of her family, she finds the locals to be a bit out of the ordinary, though certainly welcoming. Once the sleazy mover (Jeff Daniel Phillips in a disturbing turn) finishes ogling her and getting her stuff in the house, she is introduced to three peculiar housewives who invite her next door to celebrate the high school graduation party of Max (John Redlinger), a pot dealer with six-pack abs who clearly is taken by the older woman, and maybe she with him. Meanwhile, an old-timey Metro van ice cream truck runs its loops through the shady tree-lined avenues with a maniac (Emil Johnsen) behind the wheel, offing people with his knife and an ice-cream scoop. Pralines, cream and blood.

That said, not by any definition is The Ice Cream Truck really a horror movie, at least by conventional standards, the killings barely enough to merit the description. It’s much more a minor treatise on the sins of middle America with the iconic 50s-style ice-cream man running roughshod over the place with his judge, jury, and executioner character cleaning out the dregs of society, at least in his mind. He targets young lovers who betray the sanctity of common decency, calmly slaughtering victims in his crisp white parlor outfit and tiny black bow tie. Since no one is innocent in this corner of the world, including Mary, he’s got plenty to keep him busy. It’s razor sharp witticism wrapped in a rural nightmare.

The Ice Cream Truck
The Ice Cream Truck, 2017 © Look At Me Films

Johnston is painting a very specific picture here with a very specific brush making a very specific message, and honestly, it’s not going to be as clear to see for those looking for a traditional horror experience. The Ice Cream Man is very pointedly saying something about women and the burdens of young motherhood, the film layered in metaphors for standards and expectations they are often held to. Mary is a woman who has lost – at least as she sees it – some of the opportunities for fun she should have had because she became pregnant early, and so, as the days before her husband and children arrive, takes time to battle those demons. Johnston leaves us with some clever ambiguity and a few moments of interpretation if one is willing to look for such.

It’s all an ambitious effort that takes its time and uses the genre more as a narrative device than a plot point, sometimes making things a little cumbersome, however, there’s a sort of warped cynicism to it, like a murderous John Waters film and while this is not an energetic movie – its sometimes purposeful, deliberate pace testing even the most patient viewer – its gutsy style makes it a curious one. Get yourself a serving and give it a try.

The Ice Cream Truck (2017) Review

Movie description: The Ice Cream Truck is a 2017 dark comedy/horror movie about a woman who moves back to her suburban hometown, only to find that the suburbs are scarier in more ways than she ever remembered.

Director(s): Megan Freels Johnston

Actor(s): Deanna Russo, Emil Johnsen, John Redlinger

Genre: Drama, Horror

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