Stuff I Watch in October: Escape From Tomorrow (2013)

Escape From Tomorrow

Happy October and welcome! All 31 days this month, I will be reviewing all the films I watch in the month of October. They’re mostly a selection of horror or suspense films in my own library or films and shows that have been recommended to me.

Please enjoy and leave a comment!

And if you missed any of our past reflections, take a look:

The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
Psycho (1960)
The Haunting (1963)
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)
The Other (1972)
The Legend of Hell House (1973)
Young Frankenstein (1974)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
Halloween (1978)
Alien (1979)
The Shining (1980)
Halloween II (1981)
The Evil Dead (1981)
Halloween III – Season of the Witch (1982)
Ghostbusters (1984)
Teen Wolf (1985)
Aliens (1986)
Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
Predator (1987)
The Monster Squad (1987)
The Witches of Eastwick (1987)
The Lost Boys (1987)
Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn (1987)
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
They Live (1988)
Beetlejuice (1988)
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)
Ghostbusters II (1989)
Predator 2 (1990)
The Addams Family (1991)
Alien 3 (1992)
Army of Darkness (1992)
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
The Crow (1994)
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)
From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
Scream (1996)
Alien: Resurrection (1997)
Scream 2 (1997)
Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)
The Sixth Sense (1999)
What Lies Beneath (2000)
Scream 3 (2000)
28 Days Later (2002)
Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)
The Ring (2002)
Halloween: Resurrection (2002)
Identity (2003)
AVP: Alien vs Predator (2004)
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Snakes on a Plane (2006)
Alien vs Predator: Requiem (2007)
Halloween (2007)
Grindhouse (2007)
Halloween II (2009)
Predators (2010)
Absentia (2011)
Prometheus (2012)
The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

Our next film is…

WATCHING: Escape From Tomorrow (2013)

escape from tomorrow

DIRECTOR: Randy Moore. Escape From Tomorrow is his only film. That’s it. He has no other credits to his name except this one movie. But what a film.

WHAT IS IT?: No…this is NOT a long commercial for the Disney Resorts. In fact, instead of choosing to sue filmmaker Randy Moore into oblivion over the attempted release of this film (they were afraid that by doing so, they’d just cause an outrage and get more people to see it), Disney decided to simply ignore it.

I’d heard so many things about this film and how it divided film buffs and Disney buffs and movie critics. And I can see why.
What Randy Moore captures, what you see on screen, it really should not be possible, but here it is.

This is Disney channeled through David Lynch, a visual poem from somebody who is obviously haunted by childhood trauma and who, instead of attempting to find a light in the darkness, travels down into hell to confront his demons in the most unlikely places so that he can only hope to be “ok” again.

THE PLOT: Escape From Tomorrow is about a man named Jim who has just been fired by his company while he’s on vacation at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida with his family. Not wanting to ruin everything, he keeps it from his wife. As the vacation goes on, Jim’s sanity begins to waver slightly. He begins to see and hear things on the various rides and has hallucinations of his wife and family berating him.

These episodes are offset, somewhat, my two young French girls who are on vacation at the park at the very same time — and who Jim soon becomes obsessed with, which inevitably draws the attention of his wife. But that’s not all. As his behavior becomes more and more volatile and unhinged, Jim begins to discover that the “happiest place on earth” is also one of the darkest.

WHAT DID CRITICS THINK?: The film received mixed reviews from critics who ranged from “I don’t know what to make of this” to “what a ride” to “I get it but it has terrible execution.”

escape from tomorrow

WHAT DID I THINK?: Escape From Tomorrow is true guerilla-style filmmaking.

Moore and his “crew” of actors and camera people didn’t have permission to film at any of the Disney parks nor did they attempt to obtain it due to the adult content of the film. As such, the film was shot on two Canon SLR digital cameras (just like “Absentia”) because an SLR looks just like an actual camera and not a movie camera. The “cast” kept their films scripts on their phones. All this was done over several days at Disneyland in Anaheim, California and at the WDW Resort in Florida on a budget of just $650,000 dollars,

Additionally, because of the lack of permission to shoot inside the parks, they couldn’t really control the lighting or sound with the guerilla filmmaking style at play, so they shot the entire film in Monochrome and used iPhones taped to the actors to record dialogue.

Was it worth it?

I enjoyed the movie. On one hand, it seems somewhat amateurish but when the film works, it REALLY works. There are some really beautiful moments in the film which evoke so many emotions which range from incredulous scoffing to awe to shock to laughter to fright.

Even when I found myself repulsed, I couldn’t stop watching.

This is a pseudo-psychological semi-horror film, like a Disney CreepyPasta come to life, where Jim, a common tourist, is sitting through the frightening experience that is “It’s a Small World” for the sake of his kids. The music is garbled, murky, not at ALL correct (the loss of music rights and the alternate music tracks used on the rides just makes the viewer more uneasy in a way) and things aren’t helped much by Jim who just feels sick to his stomach due to the stress of losing his job.

The witch in Snow White? She’s already scary as hell and Jim’s daughter Sara is scared to death of her — but, for a kid, everything works out for the best and the moving cart you’re in will ALWAYS exit to the Florida sun-drenched landscape of the park.

Not so much for Jim.

For him, he’s somebody who has no job to return to, his family life is dragging him down and his unforgivable lusts and desires are boiling over, pulling him into something he may never escape from.

At first, this all might sound tame, as if Moore’s just trying to make something benign into something creepy…but wait until he begins fucking with your head and makes those audio-animatronic puppets cackle or blur into skulls or a tourist’s face morph into something demonic…

Of course, I haven’t even talked about the Evil Queen with her amulet of doom and how she seduces and screws Jim in his hotel room minutes after meeting him at the park.

Yes, the film even has an “Evil Queen” whom Jim might or might not have to defeat before he rescues his “princess”.

Whether you end up loving this film or hating it, Escape From Tomorrow is an experience that should be had at least once.

GRADE: B

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