Escape from Tomorrow follows a family of four on their final day of a Disney World vacation. The day begins with our unfortunate protagonist and father of two, Jim White (Roy Abramsohn), getting a call from his boss letting him know that he’s been fired. Predictably, it can only go downhill from here.
The film, like its poster (a fiendishly bloody Mickey Mouse hand), draws you in. At first. As the family’s day at the park begins and Jim begins his descent into hallucinatory madness, you want to know what he does. You want to see the stress of losing a job on top of being trapped in a creepy, vomit-inducing theme park wear down our protagonist, causing him to spiral into a horrifying, family-terrorizing frenzy. Instead, he hypnotically follows a pair of pubescent Parisian girls with his confused son in tow. You realize that weighing more on this married man is not his newfound unemployment but his sexually repressed relationship with his wife. To his credit, Abramsohn plays a good pervy dad. It’s his performance that drives this film, even where the plot and script fail.
What I take issue with most is this film’s story arc. Midway through the man’s mental breakdown, the movie takes an intermission (meaning an actual 5 second break with an intermission card) before diverting into a realm of surreal conspiracy theory territory. Then, as if this was meant as an outtake, the story returns to its former mania. Although potentially meant to be a long-form hallucination by our protagonist, it is a drawn out scene that does not progress the story or Abramsohn’s character in any way. What is additionally unnecessary is the wheelchair-bound park-goer (Lee Armstrong) who needlessly terrorizes Abramsohn and his family, only working to draw away from the surreal nature of the Jim White’s turmoil. I also have an issue with the ending of the film, where the final explanation for the man’s psychosis has little to do with the sexual motif that dominates most of the film.
The most interesting aspect of the film, when all is said and done, occurred before the movie even began. I came to forgive the mediocrity of the film’s production when I read about what the filmmakers did. To avoid Disney policies against filming on their property, and armed with three handheld Canon cameras, the cast and crew exercised guerrilla filmmaking techniques, essentially filming large portions of the film on the Disney theme park disguised as tourists. Other scenes were shot in front of a horribly apparent green screen. In post-production, sound editors had to remove copyrighted music, like that of the Small World ride, to avoid copyright infringement issues.
Despite being a success in the guerrilla filmmaking world, Escape from Tomorrow lacks a cohesive story, opting to use the excuse of surrealism instead of a workable plot. For being writer-director Randy Moore’s first film it got the attention it deserved for the work put into it, but it falls short of any merit in the genre of psychological thriller. Like our mentally perturbed protagonist slipping in and out of reality, I found myself slipping in and out of interest of this film.
Here is what I want to see in the future: (1) Roy Abramsohn in more eerie and strange roles and (2) another film from Randy Moore, be it guerrilla-style or not. With a more fleshed out narrative, Moore could make a fairly good indie thriller, I think. I’m interested to see what he will do in the future.
As always, thanks for reading!
Have you seen Escape from Tomorrow? If so, what did you think of it? Do you think I was totally wrong about the lack of focus with the plot? Did you think I’m giving Roy Abrahmson too much credit for his work on this film? Let me know in the comments!
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