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Film Review: The Ice Cream Truck (2017)

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SYNOPSIS:

Mary’s husband gets relocated for work which allows her to move back to her suburban hometown. As her family ties up loose ends back home, Mary moves into their new house all alone and….waits. Yet in this idealistic world, something seems very odd. The Ice Cream Man, a symbol of youth and good times, starts killing some of her neighbors. Mary soon learns that the suburbs are scarier in more ways that she ever remembered.

REVIEW:

 

Emil does it with such ease. He almost has a “Dexter” feel to him. He is as calm and cool as the ice cream he is serving. (I just had to, I could not help myself.)

If you are a horror fan, you most likely have seen “Ice Cream Man” starring the incredible Clint Howard. Now in 2017, written and directed by Megan Freels Johnston, we have “The Ice Cream Truck.” The film stars Deanna Russo as Mary. A free-lance writer who moves back home to one nosy neighborhood. She is first greeted by overly enthusiastic Jessica (Hilary Barraford)

They exchange a few words and super happy Jessica is all about learning about Mary. She asks the twenty questions and Mary Freels Johnston has the whole nosy neighborhood thing down. Mary, being a free-lance writer answers all the usual odd questions writers get. The music in the film is also creepy. It has a “Stepford Wives” feel to it. You see all this perfection yet you just know something insane is going to happen.

We also get a glimpse of the Ice Cream Man himself portrayed by Emil Johnsen. Mary’s first encounter was weird enough that maybe she should have put the For Sale sign back up on the house. The Ice Cream man staring in his crisp, fresh pressed uniform as he stands by his truck. His mannerisms and the way he stands and waves makes you think if Michael Myers sold ice cream that is how he would do it.

The beautiful homes, the manicured lawns and a delivery man that you may not have wanted to let in your house. Yes, the incredibly talented Jeff Daniel Phillips plays the delivery man who delivers Mary’s furniture and some overly creepy lines. He portrays this character with ease.

Poor Mary though sitting in her furniture-less house talking on the phone to her husband about “real f****** nosy” Jessica is probably the best description. She also tells him about the ice cream man. They should have just moved out. Deanna Russo does all of this with ease and is natural.

Of course dealing with creepy furniture delivery man wasn’t enough the nosy neighbor brigade shows up to invite Mary to a party. Jessica (Hilary Barraford), Christina played so great by Lisa Ann Walter and Katie played by LaTeace Towns-Cuellar. Lisa Ann Walter is absolutely is great in this film. She has the whole take charge neighborhood mom, get your ass to the party down pat!

Mary should have started writing right then and there. She would have had a hilarious, insane project to present. (Poor Mary) It seems sometimes the suburbs have a great deal to hide and they do a great job with all the details.

We also meet Max played by John Redlinger, Brie (Dana Gaier), Nick (Sam Schweikert), and Tracy (Bailey Anne Borders.) We find Mary has a semi teenage moment with Max. It may have been the neighborhood did her in, in a short amount of time. Tracy tells Mary that she “so does not seem like a grown-up.” Mary reaffirms she is a “Mom!”

There are no slow moments in this film. It keeps pace and the writing is good. They use terms that match today and it feels like a different type of horror. It is not the average horror film. The story and how well the actors play the characters make it a fun movie.

The Ice Cream Man’s truck is an essential part of the film. It is almost a trusting truck and Emil plays the creepy to the max. He is a human being and this makes him scarier. We are not always sure what humans are capable of. The Dahmer’s, Gacy’s, Ted Bundy. Films like “The Strangers,” “Seven,” “The Vanishing,” “Silence of the Lambs.”

Emil does it with such ease. He almost has a “Dexter” feel to him. He is as calm and cool as the ice cream he is serving. (I just had to, I could not help myself.)

There is an ease with Mary. Her quick comebacks and the fact that she seems comfortable yet uncomfortable around all of these odd, quirky neighbors. She handles it well.

It is not clear what is scarier the Stepford neighbors or the actual scary Ice Cream man?! There are subtle nods to other films and you felt maybe without realizing the scene where Mary is walking home seemed like an homage to Jamie Lee Curtis in “Halloween.” She is walking and just going about her own business but doesn’t realize the terror coming her way.

I love that Lisa Ann Walter got to play this part and do horror because she is always so funny. Her character gives the film some light jokes. We find one of the characters goes missing, yet the nosy neighborhood people don’t seem to notice that. Joe played by Declan Michael Laird does a great job with his character.

It makes you wonder why people go up to trucks that randomly stop in the middle of the street. Don’t people know, not to talk to strangers or the ice cream man? It was nice to have a female led film with the perspective and how strong Mary is.

The calmness and wait till you see The Ice Cream man’s weapon of choice. His calmness is unnerving. There is an edge that makes him scarier. In the midst of all the horror and creepiness, there is a semi-cute romantic scene between two of the characters. It also makes you wonder if he may be a killer too. And doorbells. Come on people, we should know by now you just don’t answer the door and never go outside. (Somewhere Randy from “Scream” (Jamie Kennedy) is yelling at his television.

The film maintains its pace and we find a passionate scene between two of the characters and then of course the slow, steady buildup of the killer ice cream man and Mary. But what does one attack an ice cream man with (a chocolate shaver? A scooper? Sprinkles?) Let’s just say Mary gets has to get creative. This film gave us a new, cool heroine and a killer that just makes you never want to go near an ice cream truck again. (Thanks Megan and Emil for bringing the creepy to the next level.) It was beautifully shot and directed. The angles and some of the dark lighting gave the film such a great horror factor. It keeps you on edge although you may want to stick to popcorn while watching the film. The ending…. You won’t ever even believe it. I almost fell off my sofa and my heart dropped.

(Thanks Megan and Emil for bringing the creepy to the next level.)

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