Editor’s Notes: Escape from Tomorrow opens in limited release this Friday, October 11th.
Escape from Tomorrow is the brainchild of first time filmmaker Randy Moore. The film cannot be reviewed without first talking about the production. The entire film was shot in Disney parks without Disney’s knowledge or consent. It’s unreal that this film even exists. This film should not have even been attempted. When Escape from Tomorrow premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, festival attendees wondered if the screening would actually happen. Disney had the power to stop the screening and stop this film from being seen by anyone. Here we are just a few weeks away from Escape from Tomorrow’s limited theatrical and VOD release. So far the release is a go.
It’s unreal that this film even exists. This film should not have even been attempted. When Escape from Tomorrow premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, festival attendees wondered if the screening would actually happen. Disney had the power to stop the screening and stop this film from being seen by anyone.
The film centers on a poster family of four. Jim (Roy Abramsohn) is the head of the family, Emily (Elena Schuber) is his wife and the children Sara (Katelynn Rodriguez) and Elliot (Jack Dalton) round out the surface image of the perfect family. As the film progresses the family values slowly unravel. The film begins with an unsettling call from Jim’s boss, followed by the setup; the family is at the tail end of their vacation at Disney World.
Randy Moore manages to turn Disney World into a twisted day at the “Happiest place on Earth.” The family spends the day enjoying the rides, but Jim starts hallucinating during the rides. Iconic cute Disney characters are distorted into odd nightmarish figures before Jim’s eyes. While Jim hallucinates his family sees nothing of the sort.
Along the way Jim finds himself infatuated with a pair of teenage Parisian girls. The girls are pretty, playful and pass for innocent Disney patrons. The family parts ways; each parent taking turns handling each child. The separation from his wife allows Jim to explore a dark voyeuristic side. Abramsohn gives himself completely into the character. It’s disturbing to witness the lengths he will go in order to stalk a pair of underage girls. This only works become Abramsohn delivers the goods. This type of behavior raises red flags. Does this actually happen at Disney’s amusement parks? How would anyone know this is happening? The patrons are too busy paying attention to the attractions to realize a sick individual is roaming freely through the grounds.
The supporting cast deserves a round of applause. The family’s seamless chemistry makes it easy to buy into the film. The tension between Jim and Emily feels like a marriage that has been going on for years and has experienced some bumps in the road. Sara and Elliot behave as children would under the circumstances. The pressure was on all of them to perform and collectively they did a wonderful job.
Escape from Tomorrow introduces a bizarre range of characters. Each character adds to the overall weirdness of the film. We will save the characters and allow you to discover them without spoilers. Once again, are these people walking the grounds of Disney World?
The cinematography in this film is top-notch. The film is shot in black and white, juxtaposing the usual vibrant colors of Disney. There are moments where it’s easy to forget all of this is happening at Disney World due to the monotone palette, essentially a big “**** you” to Disney. The shots in the film are methodical and must have taken countless hours of preparation, resulting in spectacular execution. Lucas Lee Graham (Cinematographer) should be applauded for his art direction and fearless approach to shooting the film. On a technical level there are some shots that are so calculated, so precise that it’s a miracle they pulled it off without the use of usual film equipment: rigs, cranes, lighting, etc.
Escape from Tomorrow delivers a lot of laughs. The creative use of Disney’s surroundings makes the jokes even funnier. There is one sequence involving a water fountain that delivered a huge response from the audience. Escape from Tomorrow is a film best seen with a group of friends or in a packed theatre.
For those of you complaining, “Hollywood has run out of ideas,” watch this film and try to make the argument that there are no original ideas left for films. As the audience watches the film there’s a sense that we’re all in on the joke. There is so much going on in the film that the novelty of an unsanctioned film shot in Disney World quickly dissolves. Escape from Tomorrow journeys through some dark places and toys with sci-fi in the finale.
The cinematography in this film is top-notch. The film is shot in black and white, juxtaposing the usual vibrant colors of Disney. There are moments where it’s easy to forget all of this is happening at Disney World due to the monotone palette, essentially a big “**** you” to Disney.
Moore’s film is a breath of fresh air that cannot be missed. It’s remarkable that Escape from Tomorrow is his first film. There is a little bit of everything in there for audiences. Be sure to place his name (and this film) on your radar. He rallied his cast and crew for a terrific film that must have been incredibly stressful to produce.
[notification type=”star”]85/100 ~ GREAT. Escape from Tomorrow is a breath of fresh air that cannot be missed. [/notification]