Escape from Tomorrow
So. You wanna make a movie. A Disney movie. A Disney movie that you don't want Disney to have any idea you're making... even though you're making it on the heavily guarded grounds of their Florida-based amusement emporium. You want this movie to plunge into the dark, dark crevasses of the human psyche. You want it to showcase the most base and horrible things with which our imaginations are so vindictively plagued. And you want to transpose that on top of the happinesses we're programmed to pretend we occupy day after day. Better yet, the peak of that happiness: the place and time when we're supposed to be at our purest. Our most magical. Disney World. You want to show just how much darkness lurks under that facade. You want to pull back the curtain on a time-honored tentpole, revealing the nightmare lurking on the other side. This is a story you want to tell, and you want to do it at the expense of the most powerful company on the face of the planet... right under said company's nose.
That about covers the rules that filmmaker Randy Moore breaks off camera, secretly shooting his guerilla-style indie Escape from Tomorrow at Disney World and Disneyland, and taking the project to Korea for the editing process. But what's just as impressive as Moore's death-defying venture is how he plays with the form of everything we think of as a movie on camera as well. We might have been just as startled by a straight horror film that uses Mickey Mouse as its central monster, but we're all the more in awe of the product of Moore's unadulterated creativity - a movie that disbands from the structures of any genre with which our society is familiar and delivers something that ebbs and flows in a wobbly, chilling, comical, and nauseating fashion as would the mind of a fellow who really was lapsing into insanity while on vacation with his family.
It's the only way to tell this sort of story, really - the simple story of a man who approaches would-be purity to find it decaying, and to find himself decaying as a result... or vice-versa. Something comfortably resembling a linear narrative wouldn't have the jarring and playful audacity that Escape from Tomorrow offers in its tale of the recently fired, sexually perverse, and psychologically fragile Jim (Roy Abramsohn). It would make revelations of sneering Disney animatronics, living witches, and other sinister elements lurking beneath the park function more like plot twists than snowball explosions of human fear, hate, and sadness. Moore's story doesn't seem to start and end so much as it does simply open a window into something that exists infinitely. It's simply a highly effective, unbelievably fun look at darkness.
When discussing the movie, we're bound to talk at length about the absurd backstory behind production - Moore and his cast's evasion of Disney security guards and their clandestine forays into production. But just as unusual and artistically inspiring is how Moore plays with the very fabrics of creative filmmaking. So impressive is this picture in its ability to keep making its viewer gasp at the utter, brave unbelievability of what is going on onscreen. His movie, unlike many others (especially anything featuring Disney princesses) is a rule-breaker. And in busting out from the confines of the normal, he gives us something very close to magic.
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