Fantastic Fest 2013: Escape from Tomorrow

Of all the films that came out of Sundance this year, none had even close to the same impact as Escape from Tomorrow, the film that was secretly shot at Disney. When the film hit the indie scene, it was like a bomb going off as word began to spread about the film, something that sounded more like an urban legend than something that could open at your local cineplex.

Was this simply a gimmick? Was the film actually any good? Would this insane experiment see the light of day (thanks to a company well known for its legion of mouse-ear wearing lawyers)?

As I sat in a packed theater at Fantastic Fest after just taking my Cat Flu shot, all these questions were about to be answered.

Escape From Tomorrow is the story of a father who, on the last day of his family’s vacation at an unspecified amusement park, finds out he lost his job. What follows is a surrealistic morality tale that uses the Magic Kingdom as the backdrop. Temptation and escapism in all forms are on the menu as Jim tries to deal with one of the most horrible things that can happen to a person in the happiest place on earth.

As the film unfolds, Jim’s reality begins to slowly dissolve around him as he copes with the loss of his job and his discovery that dark forces are aligning against him at the Magic Kingdom.

Randy Moore manages the impossible, in not only pulling off this feature, but also turning in a narrative that is both thought provoking and effectively uses our Disney-centric tuned subconscious against us. I found the film to be an interesting meditation on not only the American family, but our society’s obsession with pop culture as well.

The performances in this film are what truly sell it; if you have EVER been to an amusement park you have SEEN this family. Roy Abramsohn turns in a great performance as the blue collar Jim, who is equally complemented by his wife, played by Elena Schuber. It’s hard to objectively look at the performances in this film as anything but amazing, considering the conditions in which the film was shot.

Escape from Tomorrow is a magical journey into the nightmare that is adulthood. The film transcends its gimmick delivering a satisfying narrative that will renew your faith in film and proves there are still interesting and new ideas out there. You just need someone brave enough to do it.

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