THE ICE CREAM TRUCK *** U.S.A. 2017 Dir: Megan Freels Johnston. 87 mins
There is something of the languid style and understated approach of recent American indie horror in this curious, absorbing feature from writer-director Johnston (the granddaughter of novelist Elmore Leonard). Like IT FOLLOWS, it refreshingly emphasises characterisation and mood, while aping John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN with lingering shots of idyllic American suburbia streets and an insistent melody at the heart of a pulsing electronic score. Also pleasing is the unusual depth afforded to Deanna Russo’s heroine – a thirtysomething freelancer who moves back to her home town and, while waiting for her husband and kids to join her, is forced to admit her own regret at sacrificing a significant part of her youth to start a family.
Intrusive secondary characters are broadly played to reflect her mindset, from the annoyingly chipper, nosy neighbours to the weird removal man who looks and talks like a 70’s porn character. The genre-standard teens-in-peril are incidental victims of the polite, charismatic ice cream man (effectively underplayed by Emil Johnsen) who drives the eponymous old-fashioned truck and appears to know more about her than he possibly could. Johnston’s intelligent movie delivers discreetly brutal kills (including death by ice cream scoop!) and substitutes the generic bodycount picture suggested by its title with an ambiguous hybrid of horror and warped daytime soap. Russo’s three-dimensional performance is rare in this sub-genre, as is the emphasis on male eye candy.
Review by Steven West