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Thursday, March 11, 2021

Review: The Ice Cream Truck

Director: Megan Freels Johnston

Screenplay: Megan Freels Johnston

Year: 2021

Mary is a young writer who decides to go back to the suburbs where she grew up. While she waits for her husband and children to be able to move with her, Mary starts getting to know the area and her neighbors. The peace she expected to find in the suburbs is menaced by a dangerous killer who roams the neighborhood and stalks his victims from an inoffensive ice cream truck.

Let’s start with the most important part: evaluating if this movie can be classified as a horror movie. The quick answer is no, and I will be sharing my arguments as to why in the following lines. To a certain extent, it could be considered a thriller, but it misses every opportunity it has to cross the line towards horror cinema, and it looks like it never had the intention to do so. 

One of the problems horror fans will find with this movie (besides the obvious one of it not being a horror movie) is that the predominant genre is drama and even the suspense falls to the background. The script from Megan Freels Johnston (“Rebound”) focuses more on Mary and her midlife crisis when she no longer feels young and attractive. This topic feeds from Mary’s attraction towards a young guy from the neighborhood, who, according to the script, is going through high school, but who looks older than that, probably on purpose to visually close the age gap and not sending pedophile vibes.

A great deal of the plot moves around the relationship that Mary (Deanne Russo; “Being Human”) and the young guy Max (John Redlinger) develop while the killer’s story falls to a second plane. When the movie focuses on the killer, another problem arises: the killer isn’t scary at all. The basis of a slasher movie, the genre “The Ice Cream Truck” wants to emulate in this part of the story, is the killer and what he can do. In this movie, the killer’s look isn’t impressive, and the little we see him do is disappointing, and we neither get a background story or motivation that makes him interesting. So much so that one of the moving company’s employees has a scene where he comes out as more intimidating as the killer throughout the whole movie, although this scene doesn’t go anywhere.

Luckily, the acting is good enough to get the attention and allow the viewer to follow the plot. However, for many, the midlife crisis topic will not be enough to keep them in the movie for long, especially those that come across it expecting it to be a horror movie, as it is classified as. Also, the final twist is unexpected and gives an enigmatic dimension to the story. Still, nothing it does is enough to override the weak villain. 

“The Ice Cream Truck” seems to actively flee from the horror genre, even when it bases a part of its plot on a serial killer, and this ends up being the wrong decision. It focuses most of its attention on the midlife crisis of the protagonist and the little suspense it proposes falls to the background and doesn’t have much significance in the plot. In the end, only the midlife crisis is the only horror in this movie.

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