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Review: Megan Freels Johnston’s The Ice Cream Truck

Any movie, especially when it features an ice cream truck, is going to receive a considerable amount of attention during the summer months. I mean, that’s what made me want to watch and review The Ice Cream Truck in the first place. Just thinking about a refrigerated vehicle playing mind-numbing jingles on repeat while handing out popsicles and italian ice brought back fond childhood memories. It also brought me back to the time when I first discovered the Friday the 13th franchise on VHS. To say the nostalgic allure, which I think will affect many viewers in the same way, is the only thing this movie has going for it would be an understatement. The Ice Cream Truck is a low-key throwback slasher; a surprising, suspenseful and creepy suburban nightmare that you should add to your watch list before Labor Day Weekend!

The Ice Cream Truck follows young mother Mary (Deanna Russo – “Being Human,” “Gossip Girl”) as she returns to her hometown and attempts to fix her life before her family arrives. Unfortunately, numerous dangers are lurking in the darkness and are poised to strike. When Mary isn’t catering to the condescending tones of nosey neighbors, failing at being a well-rounded adult, and debating her blooming side-relationship with the town stud (John Redlinger), she’s seemingly unaware that a pushy and questionable moving truck driver (Jeff Daniel Phillips) and equally creepy ice cream truck driver (Emil Johnsen) have her at the top of their priority list. The question is: who will end her first – the mediocrity of a small town or two mad men looking to shatter that mediocrity forever?

The Ice Cream Truck also stars Lisa Ann Walter, Bailey Anne Borders, Dana Gaier, Sam Schweikert, Hilary Barraford, Dan Sutter, Declan Michael Laird and LaTeace Towns-Cuellar. The film is written, directed and produced by Megan Freels Johnston. It’s her second feature film following 2014’s Rebound and I think it’s going to be a title that really establishes her as a female director to look out for. It was co-produced by Ankit Amin, Max Silver, and Omid Shamsoddini and features cinematography from Stephen Tringali and editing from Eric Potter. Working as a team, this cast and crew flawlessly created a work of movie magic; a movie that is retro yet modern and features a level of suspense that builds at a near choking pace. The Ice Cream Truck snuck up on me and I have a silent admiration for it after my viewing. So many film-makers attempt to accomplish what Megan Freels Johnston did here and that should be recognized. I hope that this movie reaches thousands of viewers due to its clever mix of drama, romance, psychological terror and old-school slasher elements. Yeah, I was not expecting this to be a slow-burn slasher flick like we were treated to in the 1980’s, but I’m sure glad that it is!

One of the smarter summer releases of 2017, The Ice Cream Truck is relate-able  – not because we all have memories of running to the streets for partially defrosted ice cream, but because the target audience, adults, can find some sort of common ground due to the fact that being in your mid-to-late 20’s and beyond kind of sucks. Too many responsibilities, too many bills, rubbing your shoulders with people you don’t even like. Add on Mary’s moving day fiasco with a “are you going to rape me?” move-in man and you have a recipe for disaster before the bloodshed even begins. And again, let me re-iterate that The Ice Cream Truck is both subtly and in your face creepy. You know something isn’t right from the start, but all you can do is sit back, watch, and enjoy while the tiny neighborhood is rocked by several bloody, gory deaths. Two of the deaths in the movie were complete surprises to me and I’m glad that The Ice Cream Truck kept me on my toes from start to finish. I don’t think the killer’s motive is as concrete as I’d want it to be, but he was effective enough to make me forgive that.

In a nut shell, The Ice Cream Truck is an accurate depiction of Michael Myers if he was forced to get a day job in between killing seasons. It contains incredible production value, seamless editing, metaphoric themes of the past and present, and it’s a tremendous showing of a promising director. It’s a smart, clever and uncompromising old-school horror flick that’s going to take viewers back to a better time in cinema. The Ice Cream Truck is hitting VOD outlets on August 18th 2017 and I highly recommend this movie to viewers looking for a throw-back flick with a little extra bite. I can’t rave about this one enough. Well done. Final Score: 8.5 out of 10.

Written by Michael Therkelsen

(Senior Editor)