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Review: 'Escape From Tomorrow' a fever dream in Disney's world

Randy Moore achieves beautiful compositions while secretly filming on Disney grounds with star Roy Abramsohn in a black and white tale of horrors.

October 10, 2013|By Inkoo Kang
  • Isabelle and Sophie in "Escape From Tomorrow."
Isabelle and Sophie in "Escape From Tomorrow." (Handout )

Disney World can be a nightmare for many visitors, but it's rarely a sexual hell. Yet in "Escape From Tomorrow," that's the experience of Jim White (Roy Abramsohn), a grouchy father of two who spends his last day in Mickey's playground stalking a pair of Parisian jailbait. They titter and "ooh la la" to his predatory delight.

But Jim later awakens to find himself in bed with a bug-eyed, evil-stepmother type (Alison Lees-Taylor). Worse than the idea of sleeping with an age-appropriate woman — he compares his own thirtysomething wife (Elena Schuber) to Emily Dickinson — is the fact that he can't recall how he got there. He shakes off the tryst, but the park threatens his sanity. The animatronic dolls smirk and sneer, his fellow tourists turn into ghouls, even his young son (Jack Dalton) seems possessed.

Notoriously shot on Disney grounds without Big Mouse's permission, "Escape From Tomorrow" is a horror-laced fever dream in monochrome black and white. First-time director Randy Moore achieves stunningly beautiful compositions made all the more impressive by the difficult circumstances of the shooting.

For the first hour, the plot is stultifyingly aimless, while the satire of Disney's oppressive optimism is as stale as any theme-park snack. But like a roller coaster, a queasily rollicking and dizzyingly loopy climax — involving a kidnapped princess, a mind-reading robot, and a mysterious flu — ultimately makes the long wait worthwhile.

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"Escape From Tomorrow"

MPAA rating: None

Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Playing: Sundance Sunset, West Hollywood; Downtown Independent, Los Angeles; Playhouse 7, Pasadena; Art Cinema, Long Beach. Available on VOD

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