Lost in what direction and story it wants to tell, The Ice Cream Truck veers off onto the footpath to leave the audience frustrated with a film that could have so much promise as a drama or a horror. Instead, this mishmash doesn’t go far enough with either subplot to make itself felt, despite a great performance from Deanna Russo.
Mary (Deanna Russo), a young mother of two, has just moved back to her hometown early to set up her new house. Soon welcomed by other housewives, she catches the attention of college-bound Max (John Redlinger), who moves in on Mary as she counts down the days where her husband and children arrive. Faced with Max’s temptation, Mary must also deal with a suspicious ice-cream seller from the area as people begin to disappear.
Setting itself up to be a comedy-drama, The Ice Cream Truck takes a very sharp left turn early doors during the graduation party, and from then onwards, you are never quite sure what to expect, and in truth, the script doesn’t either. Does it want to be a comedy-drama focusing on the temptation of loneliness in suburbia? Instead of deciding which to pick from, it decides to mesh both together to differing results.
By introducing us to the killer so early, the concept is slightly taken away from the audience. Instead, leaving the horror elements out for longer or at least introduced more subtly would help the film tremendously stand out from other fare and make it more of a surprise when we finally go down the horror route in the last act. However, from the start, we are shown how creepy Emil Johnsen’s character is, and we are suspicious of his intents and are simply waiting for him to do something. This could cause some viewers to become impatient during the drama portions of the film as they want to return to killings, which, when they happen, are quite effective.
By going the more standard route, The Ice Cream Truck loses some of its suspense. We know there is a psychopath serial killer on the loose and that he will randomly appear at any time of the day. By not taking the more creative avenues, we are left with some non-surprising horror elements. This is a bit of a shame, yet it doesn’t deter the audience from still having a good time.
It says a lot about a film when you can think of more interesting paths that it could and should take. But it can still keep you interested. By focussing so much on Mary and Max and those lonely housewives around them, we can become invested in their will they won’t they relationship and whether one of these neighbours will catch them and equally if the humour that the writing and the cast bring to the table. Everything works very well here throughout. Sadly you can envisage a way that it could have been done a touch better. But everyone is a retrospect writer and with so much to enjoy here.
The Ice Cream Truck’s drama portions are its strongest points as you see this young mother feel the want to experience a rush after being in her first rut in her adult life as she handles being a mother to two young children. You easily relate to this character as she is still young and adapting to the suburbia world (and all the quirks that a neighbourhood might bring). Deanna Russo’s Mary is very good with her reactions to other characters and events. Keeping her distance, and at all times, you are pulled to her. However, she is seemingly cast far too young to what the script has written for her.
When she says she is old enough to be Max’s mother, she looks but a few years apart from him, as John Redlinger is actually close to if not the same age as Russo. Making the entire premise a tad moot, as you would imagine, the teenager would not be cast as if we are back in the ’80s and 90s
The Ice Cream Truck could have just been solely about these two and their possible tryst, and it would have been enough. As mentioned earlier in the review, it brings these horror elements and character in, and it just seems tacked on without much care. It would have been far stronger for us to witness more of him to think that maybe he was stalking Mary because of what was happening with her and Max. Wasting the premise despite the decent acting is a true shame as there is really something here begging to be fleshed out. However, with such a short runtime, that isn’t possible, which is frustrating for an audience.
While we are here, it is probably best to mention our killer. So little is fleshed out about him and his intentions that, at times, your mind wanders when he appears. A big mystery will be who is doing his laundry as he keeps his clothes impeccably white with all of his murders. Fairy should shine this lad up as he knows how to get blood out like no one else in cinema. More was needed from this character and his Mary Poppins bag sized truck. That we lose interest in him and would much rather go back to Max and Mary and see how that is playing out.
This ends up being an okay little horror, but it certainly works more as the drama it should really be. Ignore the poster, by the way; it miss sells the film to an absurd point. This is nothing as the poster advertises, for better or worse actually. Go in expecting your feet to be swept, and you will find something to enjoy here.
The Ice Cream Truck is out now in digital formats.
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