Movie review: Escape from Tomorrow

Drama secretly filmed at Disney proves to be disturbing, divisive, unique

“People just come here because they wanna feel safe. They’re afraid. But you can’t escape it you know. Bad things happen everywhere.”

Escape from Tomorrow never should have happened. I don’t mean that as an insult. If anything, I mean it as a complement to director Randy Moore for accomplishing the seemingly impossible.

What makes Escape from Tomorrow so extraordinary? It was filmed almost exclusively on location at Walt Disney World, without permission from the theme park. How this movie got past Disney’s lawyers is anyone’s guess, but I’m so very glad that it did. Escape from Tomorrow is a whimsical, terrifying, and provocative look at the underbelly of the happiest place on earth.

The movie begins with Jim, while on vacation with wife Emily and kids Elliot and Sarah, being fired from his job. Jim doesn’t want to ruin the vacation for his family, so he keeps it a secret. And so begins Jim’s rapid descent into insanity. I say rapid because Escape wastes no time, and by the 12 minute mark you’re already experiencing Jim’s terrifying hallucinations on the It’s A Small World ride. The downward spiral continues when Jim’s hallucinations intensify and he begins to creepily stalk two French girls, completely ignoring his son and his wife’s phone calls.

And that’s all you’re getting from me. Any more plot would be a disservice to the movie, as a large part of its entertainment value stems from just how twisted Moore makes the “happiest place on earth”.

The first thing I noticed about the film is the cinematography. The film is entirely in black and white, and as mentioned before, aside from some green screen shots, the film was shot entirely on­site at Disney

World. The magical (pun completely intended) thing about it, is that it doesn’t look at all like it was filmed on hidden cameras.

If there’s one complaint I have with the film, it’s that the mystery never seems to really be solved. It doesn’t waste time shoving explanations down your throat, which I like, but I felt like I never got a real answer of why exactly Disney was doing these terrible things to Jim. This isn’t a movie for fans of horror movies with concrete explanations, it’s an abstract vision of horror meant for us to ask how a corporation this large has kept an image so pristine.

Escape from Tomorrow isn’t a film for the mainstream audience. And that’s fine. But it’s a true shame that this movie was given a limited theatrical release and dumped on video on demand. It’s more than just a film, it’s an experience well worth your time and money.

“But you can’t be happy all the time, it’s impossible.”

Escape from Tomorrow is not rated but contains objectionable material.

 

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