Escape from Tomorrow should not have existed, and quite possibly never would have been screened anywhere beside the 2013 Sundance Film Festival without the luck of director Randy Moore. Heralded by some as the “ultimate guerrilla film”, this hour and a half long feature was filmed in its entirety at Walt Disney World Resorts without the knowledge or consent of the Walt Disney Company. Despite expectations that lawyers would shut down further screenings of the film, especially given the dark content it contains, the film has had multiple screenings at film festivals worldwide and has since entered digital and retail distribution.
Escape from Tomorrow follows Jim White (Roy Abramsohn) who is on a holiday with his wife Emily (Elena Schuber) and two young children Elliot (Jack Dalton) and Sara (Katelynn Rodriguez). After receiving word on their final day that he had been fired from his job, Jim remains committed to keeping this a secret. But whether through stress or sheer coincidence, something snaps and turns what should have been a fun day into something deeply sinister. Not only does he begin perversely fawning over two French teenage girls who inexplicably keep popping up everywhere he went with his family, but begins experiencing delusions on rides and meeting others in the park that indicated there was something more sinister taking place. Far from the “Happiest Place on Earth” it professes to be.
Ultimately Moore’s claim to fame regarding the production of Escape from Tomorrow is more impressive than the film itself. While the trailer purports the film to be a fantasy horror, it comes across as being little more than a disjointed amalgamation of ambitious Creepypastas. By the end, viewers are left scratching their heads rather than being either entertained or creeped-out. The premise sounds promising and is sure to lure more than a few viewers in, but the impression it gives was that Moore sacrificed consistent, comprehensible storytelling in order to spare himself scrapping any ideas that came to his mind. With little indication of what should be taken literally or subjectively, it is best just going along for the ride without thinking too much.
In true guerrilla style, Escape from Tomorrow was filmed using handheld cameras to remain as inconspicuous as possible, with the recorded footage not appearing jerky or unprofessional. While in-part to improve recording quality, the decision to shoot in black and white also successfully added a chilling edge to the park, which would have otherwise not been attained if in colour. The mostly novice cast managed to pull off convincing roles as well as evading detection from park staff, however some more complex moments were evidently green-screened.
Escape from Tomorrow is a strange film with a plot clearly laden with ambition but very little to show for it. But maybe this is what the film industry needs… something so outlandish that encourages new filmmakers to try something unique. Getting on the bad side of Disney lawyers may only be worthwhile if it is something better than this however.
Note: This review was originally submitted for a University assignment, similar to my re-review of The Stanley Parable HD.