Deanna Russo, Dana Gaier, John Redlinger, Emil Johnsen
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
Megan Freels Johnston
The five-year-old indie distributor Uncork'd Entertainment is back with yet another winner, writer/director Megan Freels Johnston's psychological horror/thriller The Ice Cream Truck, a film that serves up a classic nightmare scenario smack dab in the middle of good ole' suburbia.
The Ice Cream Truck stars Deanna Russo (Being Human, Gossip Girl) as Mary, a happily married wife and mother who moves back to her suburban hometown when her husband gets relocated for work. While her family ties up some loose ends back at home, Mary travels ahead and moves into the new homestead alone. A sense of nostalgia quickly gives way to an even stronger sense of uneasiness as Mary's old neighborhood sure ain't what it used to be and the suburbs are scarier in more ways than Mary ever remembered.
At times a fairly classic horror film and at other times a thought-provoking psychological thriller, The Ice Cream Truck once again reveals that Freels Johnston, the granddaughter of legendary crime writer Elmore Leonard, is herself a gifted storyteller throughout every fiber of her being.While it could have been easy to turn The Ice Cream Truck into a paint-by-numbers horror flick, Freels Johnston serves up a story that is compelling from beginning to end even when we start to question the judgment skills and wisdom of Russo's Mary.
As Mary becomes less and less at ease in a neighborhood where nearly everyone seems to cast a shadow a mile wide, the ominous present of a retro-styled ice cream truck plays mind games for just about anyone smart enough to know that something just ain't right.
The film may very well also become known as the first non-Despicable performance for Dana Gaier, whose cinematic record to date has consisted of voicing Edith in the Despicable Me films and their various other incarnations. She's a welcome presence here, though it's ultimately too brief of a turn to really get a sense of just how widely the young actress will be able to cast her Hollywood net beyond the films that have made her, or at least her vocal work, a household name.
Scandinavian actor Emil Johnsen (Corridor, Isolerad) ups the film's creepiness factor as the Ice Cream Man, whose intentions aren't trustworthy for a single second, though the same could also be said for Mary's delivery man (Jeff Daniel Phillips, 31) and Max (John Redlinger, Banshee). Michael Boateng's original music keeps us on the edge of our seats throughout the film's just shy of 90-minute running time, while Stephen Tringali's lensing is vastly superior to what we usually find in a lower-budgeted horror flick.
Picked up by Uncork'd Entertainment, The Ice Cream Truck arrives in theaters and on VOD on August 18th and definitely a film for indie horror and psychological thriller fans to check out.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic