This is the already-infamous indie that was filmed surreptitiously at
Walt Disney World. The film is fairly affecting, although the crummy
final third does it in.
The last time a filmmaker tried something like what
writer-director Randy Moore did here was back in 2002, when filmmaker
Damon Packard smuggled a video camera onto Universal Studios’ E.T. ride
for a portion of his film REFLECTIONS OF EVIL. 2013’s ESCAPE FROM
TOMORROW took that conceit even farther, with nearly the entire movie
filmed on-the-fly at Walt Disney World. Surprisingly enough Moore wasn’t
sued, and ESCAPE FROM TOMORROW was widely exhibited--and acclaimed--on
the indie film circuit, with Disney’s honchos choosing to ignore the
On the final day of a trip to Walt Disney World the
devoted family man Jim learns he’s been fired from his job. He neglects
to inform his wife Emma and two children of the bad news, wanting to
have one last good day in the park.
This, it turns out, was the wrong decision, as Jim’s
depressed mindset combined with the cartoonish surreality of the park
causes macabre hallucinations. Jim also becomes obsessed by a pair of
seductive French girls he follows around the park with his son Elliot in
tow, making sure to go on all the same rides as the girls--even Space
Mountain, which freaks out Elliot mightily.
Jim’s moodiness upsets Emma, who heads back to the
hotel with Elliot. This leaves Jim to traverse the park with his
daughter Sarah. She’s promptly injured by the bratty son of a
scooter-bound old woman, occasioning a trip to a doctor’s office. Worse,
Jim is tempted by a leggy brunette with a suspicious ruby necklace.
Then there are the French babes, who appear in skimpy
bikinis to distract Jim in the hotel swimming pool. The old lady in the
scooter and her son turn up later in the afternoon at the adjoining
Epcot Center, inflaming Jim’s paranoia--which comes to infect Emma, who
begins experiencing her own hallucinations.
Speaking of which, Jim has his own final hallucination
involving a creepy guy in a laboratory, an evil witch and a malignant
flu virus…and the movie pretty much turns to shit.
ESCAPE FROM TOMORROW is marked by strikingly noirish
black-and-white photography that transforms Disney World’s smiling
cartoon characters into leering demons, and also high spirited Disney-esque
music that nicely counterpoints the horror of the proceedings.
Intentionally tacky rear projection is another frequently utilized
conceit, done to delineate reality and hallucination. For roughly the
first hour it all works, helped immeasurably by Roy Abramsohn’s
committed lead performance.
The conceit of surreptitiously filming at Walt Disney
World may be a gimmick, but it’s what gives this film its effectiveness.
Without the documentary overlay of amusement park rides, cartoony décor
and actual crowds the film wouldn’t work at all, as is evident in the
scenes that take place outside the park, which lack the spark of those
Here I’m referring specifically to the science
fictionish final third, wherein director Randy Moore was seemingly
trying for a DONNIE DARKO effect. These scenes, involving a B-movieish
laboratory and an evil princess, are actually less surreal than the
amusement park set footage, a potent reminder that reality truly is
stranger than fiction.
ESCAPE FROM TOMORROW
Mankurt Media Inc.
Director: Randy Moore
Producers: Soojin Chung,
Screenplay: Randy Moore
Cinematography: Lucas Lee Graham
Editing: Soojin Chung
Cast: Roy Abramsohn, Elena Schuber, Katelynn Rodriguez, Jack Dalton,
Danielle Safady, Annet Mathendru, Lee Armstrong, Kimberly Jindra, Trey
Loney, Amy Lucas, Alison Lees-Taylor, Jakob Salvati