Escape From Tomorrow (2013) Review

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On the last day of the White’s family vacation to Disnyworld™, the father of the family, Jim (Roy Abramsohn), finds out that he is losing his job. Electing to keep the news from his family so that they can enjoy their last day at the park, Jim begins to have a series of strange experiences, both real and (presumably) hallucinatory. Along the way we encounter mystery illnesses, an obnoxious tourist, Jim’s obsession with random girls, conspiracies, and the ‘truth’ about Disney™ princesses and Japanese businessmen.

The movie is oddly compelling even in its more mundane moments, and almos Lynchian at its most surreal. While it’s certainly watchable, it’s unfortunate that very few of its plot elements are ever resolved and, despite showing promise to do so, they never come together into a single story.

Escape From Tomorrow really does have the potential to be a great cult-movie, and it’s genuinely frustrating that it falls short of reaching its potential. For casual movie fans, this movie is likely to be perceived as a confusing nonsense but for anyone with an interest in the making of, rather than passive enjoyment of, movies, it’s a whole other story…

The USP here is that the bulk of the movie (save some interiors and oddly stylised bluescreen shots) is filmed on location at Disneyworld™, gurilla style. Without permission from The Mouse, the movie was captured on consumer-grade cameras, in and amongst park-goers.

If I hadn’t seen it myself I would never have believed such polished results were possible under those circumstance. At no point does Escape From Tomorrow look like a found footage movie. Each shot was planned an blocked-out in advance, and captured several times from different angles, just like a conventional movie. The few shots which couldn’t be achieved this way (such as ride sequences) manage to use the difficulties to their advantage, using unconventional angles to produce a clostrophobic and unsettling atmosphere.

With its blatant disregard for privacy laws (the “extras” as members of the public, with no signed releases), bizarre handling of copyright (despite almost every shot containing Disney™  owned imagery, the one and only mention of the company is bleeped out, and on-ride music is changed), and defamation laws (as well as some unsavoury ‘facts’ about Dsiney™ another major company is dragged into the conspiracy late-on in the movie, and painted as unflinchingly evil) many at Cannes (where the film was quite the hit) speculated that it would never, could never, secure a commercial release…. Yet here it is; large as life and available to rent through most major streaming services.

So while it isn’t a terrific film, it is utterly fascinating as a testament to the film-maker’s determination and resourcefulness and determination, and as an impossible artefact in its own right.

Wow… It’s a giant testicle! 

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