Escape From Tomorrow Review

(0.5 STARS)

The more horrifying thing about Randy Moore’s Escape From Tomorrow—a David Lynch-inspired nightmare of a movie filmed covertly at Disney World—is how hypocritical its message feels. By setting such a disturbing movie at the “Happiest Place on Earth,” Moore pretty clearly wants to say some things about Disney’s dirtier side—the side that turns good kids into demons, happy families into packs of hateful, selfish monsters. I’ve been to Disney World, and I’ve seen these people. None of them populate Escape From Tomorrow, and what we’re left with is an impenetrable mess of a movie—one that deceives its customers with promises only to leave them unhappy and angry.

Sounds like Escape From Tomorrow is nothing more than a case of the pot calling the kettle black…

The film opens with its utterly detestable lead character, Jim (Roy Abramsohn), losing his job. That’s probably the best part of his day. He doesn’t tell his wife, Emily (Elena Schuber); he just wants to enjoy their last day at Disney with their two young kids, Elliot (Jack Dalton) and Sara (Katelynn Rodriguez).

They head to the Magic Kingdom where Jim’s attention is ensnared by two young French women (Danielle Safady and Annet Mahendru). Jim and Elliot wait in an insanely long line for a Buzz Lightyear ride. Later, Sara and her father pair up, and he drags her around the park in the wake of the two French girls. He starts to feel ill and has visions of the park’s many puppets turning into monsters, its princesses turning into prostitutes. But that’s all before things get really weird—before he sleeps with a witch, before he’s abducted by robots, and before a strange and deadly disease starts spreading through the park.

Good lord, the whole thing sounds brilliant, and yet it’s quite easily the worst movie I’ve seen this year. It’s never boring, despite being completely plotless. But all the zany images in the world can’t mask something this hollow. There’s nothing behind Escape From Tomorrow‘s gimmick—no lessons learned, no themes to latch on to, not an interesting character to be found.

And it’s in these one-dimensional, absolutely loathsome individuals that Escape From Tomorrow suffers the most. All the problems that drive the action forward are either of these characters’ own doing or environmental factors out of anyone’s control. That makes it really hard to see Disney as anything more than a magical, colorful truth serum. It’s not the park’s fault that Jim is crazy creepy when it comes to young women, but the park definitely makes his character flaw more visible and obvious than it might be in his and his wife’s real world. The same goes for his inattentiveness as a father. If he was maybe a little more realistic or relatable—really anything less than 100% despicable would be sufficient—his descent into madness would be fun and quite funny. Needless to say, “fun” and “funny” aren’t words I’d use to describe any aspect of Escape From Tomorrow.

Whether you think Escape From Tomorrow lives up to what it promises or not, there’s no arguing this is a provocative project with some obvious appeal in a decidedly risk-averse marketplace. And even I’ll give it credit for its black-and-white images, which are often beautiful, sometimes haunting, and always evocative. But for 90 minutes, this movie felt as torturous to me as its setting seems to be to its creator.

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