Sunday, December 17, 2017

Mid Life Crisis With A Side Of Slasher: The Ice Cream Truck (2017)

The Ice Cream Truck (2017)
Rating: *1/2
Starring: Deanna Russo, Emil Johnsen, John Redlinger

Wow, is it just me? Or is every slasher film made that had something to do with ice cream kinda...weird?

Mary is a 30 plus year old house wife, mother and struggling writer rolled into one, moving from the big city to a surburban neighborhood for a fresh start. The best she could describe her new abode is quaint, perhaps a bit too quaint as the most excitement she could get out of it while waiting for her husband and children to arrive are her nosy neighbors and an odd ice cream man creepily driving around town.

Initially bored out of her noggin, Mary soon gets the attention of Max, the teenage son of one of the neighbors, and what started as a friendly flirting between the two eventually develops into an affair that Mary herself is unsure whether to proceed to or not. But whatever decision she has to make, she better do it quick as the soft spoken aforementioned ice cream man turns out to be a maniac hunting down teenagers to mix in his ice cream and it appears Mary might be next on his chopping block.

To call The Ice Cream Truck a slasher is only a small portion of the truth. In fact, it's so damn small that I swear I forgot I was watching a slasher and instead an altogether different kind of horror flick: a drama.

It's strange, really, but the direction done for The Ice Cream Truck was more of a situational study than a narrative focusing on bringing bloody horror and exploitative fun, as the plot focuses more on what our protagonist is willing to do just to kill time, no matter how flawed it is morally. It doesn't make her your typical goodie-goodie horror flick final girl, nor can we really defend her all the way due to her actions, in turn, but I guess the point of this drama was to create a sort of realistic portrayal for us to observe, revolving around someone who gave up their youthful freedom early in their life, only to try to get it back in what I could be considered as a premature mid-life crisis where they should have surpassed such desires. It's an intriguing notion and  Deanna Russo's performance is pretty spot-on with the kind of character she's portraying, but I can't help but feel that the commentary lacks any real substance as the inclusion of the slasher elements often distract and hinder any further development of this situation realistically.

On the horror spectrum of all things, Emil Johnsen plays our killer ice cream man and all I can say about him is that he gave the character a mysterious mellow personality. We don't have much to go with in terms of this character's motive except to kill teenagers to seemingly mix in with his ice cream for flavor (something that was already done in another ice cream-themed slasher back at 1995, Ice Cream Man), but I got a soft spot for mysterious killers and I have a feeling this guy wasn't given enough treatment to show what he is really capable of.

He, along with whatever slasher elements Ice Cream Truck have to offer, are more or less pushed to the side as a sub-plot, one that was only brought up every after a third of the running time. Whenever we do get these scenes though, I am pretty impressed with their bloody and cheesy executions, a fair reason why I'm a bit disappointed with the fact that we don't get enough of them in the film. There's also the matter that the story seems to be building up to what could be a life-changing encounter between Mary and our homicidal ice cream man, but an odd twist ending not only renders this pointless, but opens more questions as to what really happened in the entire movie. ( I have my theories, though...)

In practice, a drama/slasher hybrid is not impossible if you get a chance to see the obscure slasher "Some Guy Who Kills People"; in that film, we watch a possible vengeful man kill his way through high school bullies, only to have his killing spree halted by the arrival of his runaway daughter. This odd plot warmly balances bodycount thrills, offbeat dark humor and a situational study about an antagonistic lead trying to change his way for the better, thus resulting to a good set of likable characters with chemistry and a story that we can comfortably follow both for its drama and horror elements. Ice Cream Truck, unfortunately, misses its mark to even out and amalgamate its commentaries with hack'n slash action, resulting to a mixed bag of good drama and underwhelming  horror. If anything, I personally believe this film will benefit better as a straight drama, ditching the slasher and his flesh-flavored ice cream altogether, in favor of continuing with its in-depth look of maternal and spousal crisis.

With a splendid looking production, Ice Cream Truck is far from a terrible movie, but it is partially misguided in terms of what it really wanted to be. If you happen to like independent drama with a strange twist of bloodshed, or just have an acquired taste for structure-breaking horror flicks (with varying level of success), then why not give this sweet deal a try?

1 female had her throat cut with a knife
1 male stabbed on the gut with an ice cream scooper
1 female repeatedly stabbed on the head with an ice cream scooper
1 male knifed to death
1 male lobotomized with an electronic shake mixer
Total: 5

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