THE ICE CREAM TRUCK (2017)

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Directed by:
Written by:
Starring: , ,

VOD Release Date – 18th August 2017

There are several things that (in theory) should be taken for granted from the title of a film like this. It’s probably going to be centred around a killer ice cream man and his blood soaked wares. Or at least you’d think so. However this is another release from Uncork’d Entertaiment, a name I’ve come to associate with missing the target by a wide margin. Those hoping for some silly horror thrills and an entertaining slasher story be warned, the frozen treats being advertised here are not quite as they seem – in terms of the contents of the eponymous truck, or the movie itself.

Emil Johnsen

Mary (Deanna Russo) is a writer who has just moved from the big city back to her old home town. Her husband is away with the kids for one reason or another, so of course she’s home alone in a bare house with a lot of free time to kill. The suburbia location is pretty classic stuff, and a little Haddonfield imagery goes a long way. The electronic score also fuels this vibe, adding a reasonable layer of eerie old school music. Soon it becomes clear that this idyllic setting hides more than a few sinister characters, just waiting to pull back the veil.

There are some strange personalities in the vicinity, including a creepy furniture delivery man and one or two nosy neighbours. And yes, eventually the ice cream truck can be heard broadcasting twee music in the streets – sometimes at rather strange hours of the day. However the murderous antics of the local gelato vendor sometimes feel like an afterthought in what is nearly all a slow and patience testing domestic drama full of petty housewives and small town socialites.

The really horrifying moments come not from the gory sequences but instead the vapid and self absorbed locals who pester Mary and don’t have any understanding for her life choices. She seems more in tune with some of their teenage children who want to ditch the family get-togethers and smoke drugs away from the awkward party atmosphere. Mary seems interested in recapturing at least part of her youth now she’s back in her home town, and her neighbour’s son Max (John Redlinger) seems to be a little too keen to help out.

Deanna Russo

Beyond the themes of feeling your age and behaving badly, there are some strange casting choices that blur the lines – Mary doesn’t seem old enough for a mother of two, Max doesn’t seem young enough to be a kid just starting college, and the ice cream man himself (Emil Johnsen) seems a rather young for the part. However his brief screen time hardly gives him anything to do in the first place, so it’s probably a minor point. It should of course be the central character here, but they spend so much time mired in melodrama that you’d be forgiven for forgetting what genre this is supposed to be. The acting is all fine, but the focus is never on the sinister truck or its occupant.

In terms of good old violence and movie deaths things are pretty pedestrian to say the least. There are no real efforts to be creative, or even use a few props that would link this all back to ice cream. I’d have thought that freezers and raspberry sauce would be obvious choices just as a starting point, but it was not to beyond a fleeting ice cream scoop moment. Johnsen does what he can with the material providing an acceptably charming killer persona, but it’s seriously lacking in pizazz like the murders themselves. It’s lacks shock value or even atmosphere, with a lot of scenes taking place in broad daylight.

Instead there’s just a lot of teenagers and bored housewives, and the last minute attempts to add an element of psychology thriller feel pretty incongruous and ineffective to say the least. Mary is a fine protagonist, and her role as someone out of her element in this world of barbecues and yard work is understandable. But the movie surrounding her is never strange or disturbing enough. It never carries enough threat to feel like a horror movie first, instead of just a dry family drama… and it’s certainly never sweet or sickly enough for my tastes.

Rating: ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

Mocata
About Mocata 63 Articles
A sucker for classic epics, 80s science fiction and fantasy kitsch, horror, action, animation, stop motion, foreign cinema, martial arts and all kinds of assorted stuff and nonsense. If you enjoy a bullet ballet, a good eye ball gag or a story about time travelling robots maybe we can be friends after all.

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