Published on October 27th, 2013 | by Craig Silliphant0
Escape from Tomorrow
I read about Escape from Tomorrow awhile back after it screened at Sundance and was instantly enthralled by the story of how it was filmed, which was nothing short of astounding. The plot centres on a man on the last day of his family vacation at Disneyworld, whose cheese starts to slip off his cracker, so to speak. It’s also been described as being, “about the terror of ubiquitous entertainment.”
The movie was shot without permission, guerilla-style at Disneyworld (and actually, also at Disneyland), with those high-end DSLR cameras that park visitors often use. They used iPhones and digital recorders taped to their bodies and running all day to capture sound (which had to be sorted through later by the sound editors), even using their phones to hold scripts. Director Randy Moore had to edit the film in secrecy in South Korea. Of course, Disney is well known for ferocious protection of its intellectual property and there is tight security at the park. It’s a wonder they were able to get away with it at all. Either way, this left me asking myself, is the story of how it was filmed going to be infinitely better than the movie? Or will there be merit in the movie itself?
Parts of Escape from Tomorrow are insanely good, bringing to mind similar movies like Aronofsky’s Pi or Lynch’s Eraserhead. There are some hilarious and satirical ideas and some truly creepy, paranoid visuals. It also references themes and imagery from material like Oedipus to Westworld.
It’s not for the sexually repressed; it imagines that Disney princesses are hookers for Asian businessmen and quickly turns the father character into a leering, Todd Solondz-inspired pervert Dad. There’s a lot of fun to be had for fans of weird shit and B-movies and those who like to partake of herbal jazz cigarettes will love the hallucinatory nature of the film. They had to shoot in monochrome for lighting reasons, and the black and white adds another quirky, noirish element to the look.
On the flipside, the movie is fairly scattershot in terms of pacing and plot (or making a whole lot of sense, for that matter). It veers into The Room territory once or twice, becoming unintentionally funny. They had to do some green screen work that looks horrendous (though it works well later in the trippy scene with the witch and the amulet). I also found that knowing the story of how the film was shot was infinitely distracting while watching the movie. I was always looking for ‘how’ a shot was captured. It’s not the movie’s fault, but part of watching the film is watching for the gimmick. Perhaps repeat viewings would smooth this out.
All in all, I liked Escape from Tomorrow, even beyond the gimmick. I’d recommend it to those on the lookout for cinematic curiosities, though not to the multiplex normies. Though the story itself was a little confused, it still had enough interesting elements, ideas, and even questions in it that I was engaged. And it looks like Disney will actually ignore the movie, most likely so they don’t draw more attention to it by creating a ‘Streisand Effect,’ which is smart on their part. At any rate, I hope Randy Moore got some of these unresolved father issues out of his system with the making of Escape from Tomorrow, because that shit is was a festering rot inside him.