Monday, August 14, 2017

Movie Review: "The Ice Cream Truck" (2017)

Director: Megan Freels Johnston
Year: 2017
Rating: NR
Running Time: 1 hour, 36 minutes

A woman moves from Seattle back to her hometown in suburbia. She prepares her new house while she waits for her husband and kids to show up. Meanwhile, to cure her boredom, she tries to recapture her youth. While all of this is going on, an ice cream man murders unsuspecting victims.

"The Ice Cream Truck" is written and directed by Megan Freels Johnston. It stars Deanna Russo as Mary, a 30-something-year-old woman who is moving from Seattle back to the old suburban neighborhood where she grew up. She has just arrived at her new house and is in the process of setting everything up for the arrival of her husband and two children, who are finishing up the school year. Growing bored and restless, Mary decides to do things she couldn't do with her kids around, momentarily trying to recapture her youth. She gets invited to a graduation party and winds up smoking pot and hanging out with her neighbor's 18-year-old son named Max, played by 27-year-old-who-we-thought-was-32-year-old John Redlinger. All the while, an ice cream man in a vintage ice cream truck is simultaneously going on a murdering spree in their small town.

If you go to IMDb and look up "The Ice Cream Truck," it is billed as a 'comedy/horror/mystery,' but it is barely any of those categorizations. Yes, it has a few horror elements spawned from a killer ice cream man running amock in suburbia, but overall, this is mostly just a midlife crisis drama interwoven around a couple of kills. The movie is 85% focused on Mary and her boredom as she saunters through the days waiting for her husband and kids to show up and wouldn't you know it, since she's alone, she has an urge to be bad. Luckily for her, every man she comes across tries to have sex with her, right down to the creepy furniture delivery man, who we thought for sure was going to kill her. It's all about Mary trying to be young again while engaging in smoking reefer and flirtations with an 18-year-old kid. We're all for a "do you, girl!" type of situation when the kids aren't around, everyone needs to let loose, but we didn't find much (if any) humor or mystery to anything that goes on in this movie.

Deanna Russo does a good job with her performance. She has a few awkward conversations with her "Stepford Wives"-esque neighbors that she sells really well despite some odd audio editing. And speaking of these "Stepford Wives" neighbors, that's one of the biggest problems we have with "The Ice Cream Truck," the over-the-top nature of all of the characters. This is most apparent in the way the catty neighborhood wives act, particularly Jessica, played by Hilary Barraford, and Christina, played by Lisa Ann Walter. It's like all of these people are on crack, they are so unnaturally spastic in their delivery.

Then, there's the ice cream man in his 50's style ice cream truck who combs the neighborhood killing people. These moments feel disconnected from the rest of the story and feel thrown in so the movie could be called a "horror." Considering the title is "The Ice Cream Truck," you'd think it would be a bigger part of the story. Every death set-up is cliche. A character who has only had about four minutes of screen time goes off by themselves? Noooo, they won't die immediately! On top of this, the murders aren't even creative. The ice cream man is a basic slasher who uses a knife to kill his victims most of the time (except for one awesome kill at the end), and if that's the case, why make him an ice cream man at all? He could have been a random, nondescript crazy person and this movie would have been exactly the same and the story would have the exact same outcome. Oh, that's right, we get it, "there are some things in life that are sacred, and the ice cream man is one of them." OOOOOOOOKAY. There is never any panic or even any acknowledgment that the murders have happened. The entire town is oblivious to what's going on, which means there's zero tension from start to finish.

It's obvious why events play out the way they play out in "The Ice Cream Man," but the ending feels so unearned and so tacked on that we didn't even realize what the director was trying to say until the next day, and it still didn't change our minds about this movie. There is so much wasted potential here. The best thing about this flick is its 80's-like electronic slasher homage soundtrack. Beyond that, we found "The Ice Cream Truck" to be a slow paced, mostly boring drama with smatterings of slashings by a serial killer who happens to drive an ice cream truck. Freshness, dramatics, and uniqueness get lost in the fray.

My Rating: 3/10
BigJ's Rating: 2/10
IMDB's Rating: ---/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: ---%
Do we recommend this movie: AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE!!!

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