Escape From Tomorrow (2013)

Posted: November 6, 2013 in Movies

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In today’s world of movie-making, it is hard to come up with that “magical” concept: something no one has done before and so ingenious that the world is surely to take notice. We’ve seen some new ideas over the last year or so from the unique and mind-bending Cabin in the Woods to the absolutely breathtaking Gravity , but none of that compares to the ground-breaking approach taken by rookie filmmaker Randy Moore.

Moore’s directorial debut – Escape From Tomorrow – follows a family on their vacation to Disney World. Just the mention of “Disney” brings back so many amazing memories and fantasies from our youth, and you can’t help but smile when you think of the magical whimsy of the Disney theme parks. But sometimes, even the best planned vacation can be a disaster.

The movie focuses on Jim White, an average everyman living the dream  with his wife, Emily, and their two children, Elliot and Sara. On the last day of their  vacation, Jim receives a phone call alerting him that he has been laid off from his job. This clearly distresses him, but he keeps it to himself in order to ensure as much happiness as his family can get out of their final day at the resort.

As the day progresses, though, Jim’s sanity slowly begins unraveling – from near-blackout hallucinations to alcohol-induced fantasies – and the line between reality and fantasy becomes blurred faster than a descent down Space Mountain. The irony of losing one’s mind in a place regarded as one of the world’s great escapes is genius, and the black and white presentation only adds to the darkness taking place in the “happiest place on earth”.

While loosely labeled a “horror” movie, the film feels more like a stomach churning ecstasy trip, with obvious influences from such visionaries as David Lynch and Roman Polanski. The acting is superb (considering you have never seen anyone in the cast before), and the story is well-written, uniquely presented, and just weird enough to keep you focused throughout.

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For me, though, the most interesting aspect of the movie is that it was filmed at the theme park without the permission of the Disney Corporation. Using a well-contrived system of hidden cameras and spy-like communication, Moore managed to get his footage “guerilla-style”. That of course means a couple of shaky camera sequences and muffled audio parts – but only adds to the ominous atmosphere Moore is able to stitch together almost effortlessly.

The film (which premiered at Sundance a few weeks back) is available for rent and purchase at amazon.com – and I would suggest watching it sooner than later. The legal representatives of Disney are usually pretty interested in getting their king’s ransom of anything involving their intellectual properties, and the fact that Moore did this film without their consent will most certainly bury Escape From Tomorrow in legal hell long before it ever reaches DVD or BluRay.

That won’t bother Moore, who, with his middle-finger  raised high in the air, will surely move on to new projects (several of which are already in development)- which will hopefully all be just as magical.

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