"The Happiest Place on Earth"...or maybe not?
Jim (Roy Abramsohn), his wife Emily (Elena Schuber) and his two children Sara (Katelynn Rodriguez) and Elliot (Jack Dalton) are just beginning their final day of a family vacation at Disney World when Jim gets a call. He's lost his job and must deal with that added stress as the family rushes to complete their vacation checklist during the day.
This unfortunate call, which provides no concrete explanation to Jim as to why he's lost his job, marks the beginning of one of the strangest and most horrific days any family could experience at a Disney theme park.
The film, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year and recently played Austin's own Fantastic Fest, was shot in black & white entirely on everyday cameras like the Canon 5D DSLR inside both the Disneyland and Disney World theme parks. The normal nature of the cameras and the concealed nature of the sound equipment allowed for the entire film to be shot and recorded right under the powerful eyes of Disney and its employees (a.k.a. Cast Members.)
The nature of the film's production is what sets this surreal yet whimsical horror film apart from its festival circuit competition but that's not the only aspect of the film that makes it something remarkable.
Where "Escape from Tomorrow" truly succeeds is in the evocation of the wide range of emotions a trip to Disney World can stir up in a person whether that person is an adult or a child. The pure joy of a childhood dream coming true, the overwhelming uneasiness from the magnitude of the park and the horror induced by the large towering imagery surrounding you are all addressed in Moore's film. This smorgasbord of emotions allows "Escape from Tomorrow" to create a sense of nostalgia while also making a satirical stab at the mighty Mickey Mouse empire and the mythical evil mysteries surrounding the Walt Disney Company.
With the addition of Abel Korzeniowski's gorgeous score which matches the film's aforementioned nostalgic and whimsical nature, Randy Moore and his crew have created one hell of a first feature film that belongs in the upper echelon of cult classics for years to come.
A perfect film "Escape from Tomorrow" is not, but any film that can make someone feel the sheer joy and terror that was prevalent in the classic films of Disney's past while cleverly tearing away at the pixie dust image of Disney itself is worthy of the highest level of acclaim and admiration.
Film lovers can only hope this is the just the beginning of a daring and fruitful career for Moore and that more gems like "Escape from Tomorrow" await in the years ahead.