Susan Granger’s review of “Escape from Tomorrow” (Producers Distribution Agency)
I’ve seen eerie, experimental movies before – but never anything quite as bizarre as Randy Moore’s low-budget, horror fantasy about a man going insane at Walt Disney World. Without permission from Disney, Moore covertly filmed inside their enormous amusement parks in Florida and California.
The story revolves around a family of four, park-hopping on the Disney World monorail. Problem is: the Everyman father, Jim (Roy Abramsohn), begins to go bonkers after he gets a phone call from his boss informing him that he’s lost his job. Deciding not to tell his family and ruin their fun, he’s nevertheless testy with his nagging wife, Emily (Elena Schuber), and two towheaded kids, Elliot (Jack Dalton) and Sara (Katelynn Rodriguez), particularly when the Buzz Lightyear ride shuts down just as they’re preparing to board. Obviously distressed and disoriented, Jim ogles two flirty teenage French girls (Danielle Safady, Annet Mahendru) and drunkenly imagines himself cavorting in bed with a middle-aged fairytale princess (Alison Lees-Taylor). He views animatronic figures coming to life as the personification of evil, pretends to shoot himself with a fake Frontierland rifle and believes that he’s been tasered in the groin and taken to a secret Siemens laboratory underneath Epcot’s Spaceship Earth sphere, where he’s brainwashed. Finally, he suffers a grisly death at Disney’s Contemporary Resort Hotel.
Subversively skewering America’s obsession with pop-culture entertainment, writer/director Randy Moore maintains: “You can’t be happy all the time. It’s just not possible” – certainly not when anxiety, debt, kidnapping and terrorism lurk, like heat and humidity, just below the garish Mouse House surface.
So how did Moore and his crew get away with it? Easily. Cinematographer Lucas Lee Graham used an innocuous Canon 5D Mark II camera with black-and-white film stock. Reportedly, they were questioned only once – when a Disneyland security guard inquired if Roy Abramsohn was a celebrity – because they have a set protocol for escorting celebrities around the park.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Escape from Tomorrow” is a sinister, surreal 5. Somebody
slipped him a Mickey.