ESCAPE FROM TOMORROW
Starring:Roy Abramsohn, Elena Schuber
Availability: DVD and Blu-Ray widely available from Random Media
Let me just start this review by asking how the fuck is it possible this film made it into theaters? Disney is a company known for being greedy, cutthroat, and definitely aren't afraid of being embroiled in a legal battle or two. Somehow, though, writer-director Randy Moore was able to shoot a movie guerilla-style in a Disney theme park, made no efforts to mask that the film takes place at a Disney theme park, violating a lot of copyright laws I'm sure in the process. Yet it got released without even a threat of legal litigation. I doubt we'll ever know how Moore pulled it off, but I've got to say "Fucking bravo, man!"
Naturally, as a fan of fringe cinema, I've been wanting to see Escape From Tomorrow since I first heard about it. I really started getting interested in it even more when I realized how divisive the film was. There is a good handful of people I've talked to who absolutely hate this fucking movie. I was also incredibly interested in the backstory of the film. As a child, following his parents' divorce, Randy used to spend a lot of time at Walt Disney World with his father. As he grew older, his relationship with his father soured, and the happy memories the park once held for him became bitter and dark. Once he came of age and had children of his own, he starting taking his children to Disneyland a lot, to the point where it became an obsession. He wanted to create happy memories for his family, but all the pain and heartbreak came flooding back to him.
After the death of his grandparents, Randy decided to take the inheritance that he received from them, and used it to make this movie, similar to what Damon Packard with his equally guerilla-style masterwork Reflections of Evil. He decided that he had to shoot it at a Disney theme park, despite the fact that in doing so, the movie may never see the light of day. Now, all this history would cause the film to be at the very least a cult cinema curiosity. Let me just tell you this movie is so much more than that. This movie is so intensely personal, and exists as a sort of catharsis for Randy. He has channeled his childhood demons, and brought them to life in a film that is a surreal, experimental, endlessly compelling cinematic nightmare.
The idea to shoot the film in monochrome black and white, a decision that was made out of necessity rather than an artistic decision, works wonders here. There's no way a movie that was shot under these conditions should look as good as this does, and it simply looks magnificent. I also loved Abel Korzeniowski's superb score. It was simply a superb, haunting, incredibly effective piece of music. The amount of professionalism on display here is nothing short of a revelation when you consider how completely unprofessional the majority of the production was. Randy Moore is a director that I have no choice but to keep my eye on. This is the work of a true artist, a master of his craft.
I really think the best way to approach this film isn't to focus on the narrative of the film. I'll admit, it is a bit of a mess sometimes. I think it's best to view it as an experiment. This is a director taking a real risk, and getting a chance to tell a personal story in the process. The father in the film is portrayed as a lustful, womanizing drunk. The park, at first seen as a blissful place full of wonderment, ends up bringing this family nothing but absolute horror. The events that transpire in the last half hour are absolutely insane, and they simply have to be seen to be believed. I couldn't help but fall madly in love with this film. It casts a spell on people. While it truly does seem to be a real love it or hate it affair, it's not something you're likely to forget anytime soon. It's not a perfect film, but I feel inclined to give it a perfect score. Why? Because you don't come across too many films with this sort of personality and vision anymore. That, my friends, is something to be celebrated.
Until next time, my fellow freaks and weirdos...