Interest in “Escape From Tomorrow” is as much, if not more, about how the film was made than what it’s about or the quality of the film-making. Director Randy Moore and his team of filmmakers made the movie in secret, guerrilla-style. They avoided drawing attention to their project with a Canon 5D DSLR camera, smart phones and hidden digital recorders, and lots of surreptitious directing and acting.
“Escape From Tomorrow” is intended to be hypnotic and horrific. Its story starts with a family trip to Walt Disney World, where the father, Jim, learns he’s lost his job. He decides not to tell his family. But the day follows Jim’s descent into madness – including his growing attraction to and obsession with a two young French girls– and ends with his interrogation in a Disney detainment facility underneath Epcot’s Spaceship Earth.
Watch the "Escape From" Tomorrow trailer.
The film garnered a lot of attention at Sundance, where the responses were as much about the audacity of the project and speculation about a Disney lawsuit as it was about the film itself. It’s been a classic underdog story waiting to emerge, with the expectation that the Mouse House would pursue legal action to stop the film from being distributed.
But the black-and-white film apparently will have its own Cinderella story. The film has found a distributor and “Escape From Tomorrow” will enjoy limited theatrical release and be available and VOD release Oct. 11.
The ‘Escape From Tomorrow” trailer lets audiences in for a taste of what to expect from the decidedly unDisney movie. Like the film, it’s a bold trailer – one that revels both in using cliches of the horror and fantasy genres and offers a winking sense that a family vacation at a Disney Park is its own kind of surreal nightmare. It’s not subtle, but it is (perhaps unintentionally) funny.
Familiar images of Disney characters, attractions and families – an impression challenged by the presence of such overdone voice-over lines as “People come here because they wan tot feel safe. Bad thing happen everywhere. Especially here.” Quick cuts, some of which feature the Disney Parks and some of which are more hallucinogenic in nature, add the horror-fantasy element upon which the film sells itself.
Reviews of “Escape From Tomorrow” have been mixed to positive. Sites like /Film, IndieWire, and The Hollywood Reporter have noted the film strong ideas as well as striking images and scenes, but an uneven execution that ultimately undermines the film’s strength as a film, even under its clear positioning as an experimental film. That the film is compelling, however, is agreed upon.
But as a bold experiment in film-making, and in challenging a company with the cultural and economic power that Disney has? As reviewers agree, that makes the reception of “Escape From Tomorrow” worth watching. And maybe even worth watching the film itself.