Movie Review: “Escape From Tomorrow” Discovers the Dark Side of Disney

escapeWhat seems to be a normal family vacation to Walt Disney World quickly turns into something much more twisted and sinister. Shot on location and without permission from The Walt Disney Company, Escape From Tomorrow takes you on a journey full of magic, imagination and horror.

Escape From Tomorrow piqued the interest of many when it debuted at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. The late Roger Ebert himself picked the film to play at the festival. Film bloggers took to Twitter to discuss this very different film after the premiere. There weren’t many details about the story; all anyone could talk about was how surreal it was and the how it was shot.

The story is told from the perspective of Jim, a father who suddenly loses his job while on vacation in Florida with his family: Emily, his wife, and Elliot and Sarah, his two children. As the family makes their way through the park, Jim suffers hallucinations while on various rides. He also becomes obsessed with a pair of sexy Parisian teenagers who seem to beckon him to follow them around the Magic Kingdom.

Things quickly spiral out of control as Jim (Roy Abrahmson) becomes more and more unhinged from the sensory overload, the constant nagging of his wife and the kids begging to ride this and that and the threat of a mysterious virus called “Cat Flu.” The movie takes an even weirder turn in the third act which will leave you scratching your head and feeling a tad unsatisfied (more on that later).

While Escape From Tomorrow is marketed as a horror film, it feels more like a comedy. Perhaps it’s just the awkward adulteration of The Happiest Place on Earth making the child inside of us all really uncomfortable, so we can’t help but nervously laugh while Jim gets his brains screwed out of him by a strange woman (who informs him that the turkey leg he just ate was really emu).

As the trip falls apart, so does this movie. The third act is where Escape From Tomorrow goes off the rails, literally. There is so much going on that the plot gets lost in itself. The Siemens Corporation (which sponsors the Spaceship Earth attraction) is introduced and then dropped with very little explanation as to what the hell just happened. Is everyone a robot? What’s going on with Jim’s imagination? All of these very interesting ideas and questions that are posed, but aren’t answered or fleshed out.

Overall, Escape From Tomorrow is definitely a very fun experience. Writer/Director Randy Moore gives us a look at the Disney aesthetic from a twisted point of view. There are solid performances from the cast. Roy Abrahmson really is the best part of this movie, just watching him interact with this hellscape is really a treat. For some parents who know what it’s like to go to the Disney Parks, they may feel a sort of connection to Jim. There are plenty of glimpses of famous Disney characters and attractions. You’ll also see some very funny reactions from other park visitors and some park employees (who may or may not have been actors) to certain lines said in the film. You have to really appreciate what they were able to do in secret, and that’s the real attraction of this picture.




Escape From Tomorrow is now playing in select cities. It is also available on iTunes and Video On-Demand!

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