Arriving to theaters and VOD on August 18, 2017, is one of the most unique horror movies of the last several years, The Ice Cream Truck. If you enjoy horror movies that are dialogue-driven and symbolic, then The Ice Cream Truck is for you. Written and directed by Megan Freels Johnston (Rebound), the film stars John Redlinger (Nashville, The Originals), Emil Johnsen (Corridor, Ego), and Deanna Russo (Two and a Half Men, The League).
Seemingly, The Ice Cream truck is about a 30-something woman, Mary (Russo), who moves back to her suburban hometown. With her husband finishing up business back at home, she is all alone in the house for a week. She notices something is odd about the neighborhood, chiefly, the ice cream man. She soon finds out that suburbia is more horrifying than she remembered.
There’s Something About Mary
Though the above synopsis does describe the story, it only touches on the surface; the film is about so much more. This movie is best described as a drama, with humor and horror sprinkled throughout. This is a slow-build story, and that is part of its brilliance. The film doesn’t evoke fear with a bunch of jump-scare tactics, but with the use of storytelling and gradations.
The audience watches Mary at an interesting phase in her life, one that anyone 30 and older can relate to. The 30s can be somewhat of a complicated time in life; for many, it’s a time of marriage, children, and real maturation. Though the 30s is still young, the party days of the 20s start becoming distant in life’s review mirror. For some, there is a struggle in becoming more mature and trying to hold onto the adventurous side of themselves. This is Mary’s contemplation.
As she attempts to settle into her new abode, we watch her process where she’s at in life (both emotionally and physically). Deanna Russo breathes life into her character, and thanks to sharp writing and a stellar performance, Mary has a great deal of depth. The character isn’t built on over exposition, but rather with nuances and emotion that Russo gives Mary.
Russo is one of those artists that have remarkable transference of emotion; whatever her character is feeling, the audience also feels. Viewers are likely to laugh out loud while watching Mary attempt small talk with her neighbor and watching her reaction when she meets the desperate housewives of the neighborhood. Equally, when she is terrified, the audience is likely to be scared as well. Mary is cool, witty, complicated, and very relatable; it’s enjoyable watching her story unfold.
This Ice Cream Man Doesn’t Have Good Humor
And then there’s The Ice Cream Man (Johnsen) and his equally disturbing vehicle. It’s difficult to create a truly unique villain, or premise for that matter, in modern horror movies — hence the reoccurring themes of ghosts and possessions — but Megan Freels Johnston did just that. Not only did she create an original movie of the macabre, but she also took a symbol of youth, innocence, and carefree summers and turned it into a nightmare. The high-end chimes that usually entice joy or fond memories of yesteryear become utterly unsettling as the ice cream truck creeps through the neighborhood.
If the chimes don’t help put you on the edge of your seat, then the film’s score should do the trick. Viewers can look forward to a score and essence that pays homage to horror flicks of the late ’70s. Between the creepy truck and the music, this story feels like a bygone era trapped in the present; perhaps this is what Mary feels like.
The allegory in the movie also deserves recognition. The symbolism is used with precision and delicacy. Beyond the ice cream situation, there are other gems to look for that are pleasing to ponder. Between the symbolism of the film and watching how Mary handles a variety of situations, this story is pleasingly thought-provoking.
To watch the trailer, visit the official website for The Ice Cream Truck.
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With superb writing, direction, music, symbolism, and a standout performance from Deanna Russo, The Ice Cream Truck is one of the best horror movies of 2017.
[Featured Image by Uncork’d Entertainment]