Strange Cinema: Escape from Tomorrow (2013)

This is part of an ongoing review series for the films featured on 366weirdmovies.com‘s Certifiably Weird list. My goal is to watch and review all of them (even if it kills me). These reviews may contain spoilers.


Escape from Tomorrow (2013)
Director: Randy Moore
Starring: Roy Abramsohn, Elena Schuber, Katelynn Rodriguez, Annet Mahendru, Danielle Safady, & Alison Lees-Taylor

What’s it about?
Jim gets fired from his job while on vacation at Walt Disney World with his family and begins to have increasingly disturbing hallucinations that may or may not be real.

Is it any good?
I had such high hopes for this film. Not only was it filmed illegally in Disney World, but it was also advertised as a biting satire of the entire Disney corporation. The buzz surrounding this film was so intense I just assumed it was going to blow my mind. I should really know better by now than to trust “buzz.”

Escape from Tomorrow is technically a horror film, but it’s really not that frightening. Sure, it has a couple minor scares (animatronic puppets on the “It’s a Small World” ride with demon faces is a little disconcerting), but there weren’t enough to make this film genuinely horrifying. I need more than just facial distortion and an ambiguous ending, Randy Moore.

I realize how risky it was to film this, but the editing is just terrible. The actors look Photoshopped on to stock footage at several points, and the explosion scene at Epcot is beyond ridiculous. And did I mention there’s a completely unneeded five-second intermission? This isn’t Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I doubt it was included for comedic effect.

The acting is just as bad. Roy Abramsohn was pretty good as Jim, but his wife was a bit of an over-actor. I didn’t really believe her anger because it just seemed out of place. And Alison Lees-Taylor as the unnamed other woman was just too much. Maybe that was intentional since she comes off as a cartoonish villain, but it was kind of a distraction.

I honestly couldn’t tell who was supposed to be the real villain in this film. There’s the other woman who kidnaps Jim’s daughter, but then there’s also the weird scientist inside Epcot who keeps Jim in a secret detention center. But the scientist isn’t torturing him–he’s just showing Jim his own imagination. What’s so evil about that?

The plot makes little to no sense, mostly because there’s just too much going on. Jim has hallucinations, becomes obsessed with following some French girls around the park, has a random affair with this other woman, gets kidnapped by an “evil” scientist, and eventually comes down with “cat flu.” What the hell was the cat flu supposed to signify?

I honestly believe Escape from Tomorrow would have worked better in the documentary style, much like The Blair Witch Project or Quarantine. It was already filmed guerrilla-style, so why not play that up more? If the scares were a bit more subtle, it could have been a lot more successful. As is, it’s just a film festival novelty by an ambitious filmmaker. And it’s amazing that Disney didn’t sue the shit out of Randy Moore.

Grade: D+ (for amateur filmmaking and a plot too convoluted to be frightening)
Weirdness Score: 8.5/10 (or, weird enough to make a family theme park seem a bit more menacing)

[Read the more in-depth 366 Weird Movies review here.]

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