Thrilling rides, dreams becoming reality, and family friendly fun are not the case in this guerrilla-style film by writer and first time director Randy Moore. Shot completely unauthorized in Disney Parks using DSLR cameras and handheld digital recorders, Escape From Tomorrow plays on the idea of the dark side of Disney. The happiest place on earth quickly shifts into a hellish jail cell full of eerie animatronics and the unexplained.
Escape From Tomorrow follows Jim White (Roy Abramsohn), a middle-aged family man that takes his wife and two young children to a Disney park. As the last day of their trip moves on, the family’s patience runs short with him. After coming in contact with two adolescent French girls, Jim’s hallucinations and dark fantasies overtake him. Always holding one of his children by the hand, he becomes obsessed with these girls and follows them throughout the park.
As the film continues, the in-between of what’s real and what’s not becomes a very thin line, leaving the audience and Jim confused about the strange events. His wife starts to hate him, his kids don’t trust him, and a mysterious woman messes with his mind and threatens his marriage. Roy Abramsohn, who portrayed Jim, nailed it when it came to playing an unemployed father who slowly loses his sanity and family in possibly the worst place. Jim has lost his job, his marriage is crumbling, and he has issues with his own children.
With everything being in black and white, his view of the park is flipped upside down. One of the most talked about scenes is the trip through “It’s A Small World”, a popular musical boat ride in the park. This is Jim’s first blackout. The animatronics turn demonic in flashes, his vision spins, and his son’s eyes turn dead black. The ride was a little bit creepy at first, but nowhere near as creepy as this film portrayed it.
Surprisingly, considering how this film is talked about among other critics, the film isn’t as completely horrifying and uncomfortable as advertised. There was a very strong dark comedy element that broke up much of the tension and added a playful element to Jim’s frightening hallucinations. The scenes in Epcot were frightening and unsettling, but the hilarious moments worked perfectly to lighten the mood and keep the viewer interested. The only instance of someone almost saying Disney occurs in the Epcot, but it was bleeped out.
While some aspects are left unanswered, the film was extremely visually appealing. The film wouldn’t be the same and would look like a homemade movie without the effect. Throughout the film, I was left wondering, “How did they get that without getting caught?” Randy Moore and the production team did a great job getting shots while in the Disney park. it’s honestly difficult to tell this was a film made in complete secrecy and without Disney’s permission.
I’m interested to discover what Disney thinks of this film and if anything will come of it. Everyone knows the Disney parks as a bright, clean, positive, and energetic places to escape to. The opposite is shown in this take of theme parks. What I appreciated the most about this film is the questions you leave with. How can someone be in a place that’s supposed to be the happiest place on Earth? Can there be a place that is purely happy? If so, how can one corporate vision define what “happy” is to the masses?
Overall, I enjoyed Escape From Tomorrow. I was left disappointed that some parts had no closure or a reason for why they happened. On the other hand, many things don’t have to bear a reason behind them. The budget, crew, and filming was limited, and I thought it was pulled off very well with what they had. This is an extremely unique film and shouldn’t be overlooked. The film keeps your interest, takes you through a nightmarish journey, and manages to convince you that you are also heading towards a road of insanity.