Movies: Escape From Tomorrow

This bizarre black-and-white film should not really exist. It was shot guerrilla style at Disney World (with a few other locations thrown in), turning the "Happiest Place on Earth" into a sinister place in which weird things happen and people get sick from something called cat flu.

Escape From Tomorrow centers around a man named Jim, on his last day of vacation with his family (wife Emily, daughter Sara, son Elliot). As the day begins, Jim gets a phone call that he's being fired from him job, setting him on edge from the start. He and his wife pick fights with one another, each eventually taking a child and splitting up for the day. Jim begins to follow around a couple of young French girls. He also starts seeing things—faces on dolls in the "Small World" ride become evil, for instance. (Interesting side note: The music on the rides has all been changed due to copyright issues.)

In terms of thrills it's all pretty mild. It's strange, but almost not strange enough. I'm kind of wishing the filmmakers had gone further with it.

Jim is thoroughly unlikeable, and his wife isn't much better, so there's no one to side with as you watch. Even the kids aren't terribly sympathetic as characters. What makes the film, of course, is the location, and the fact that it all had to be done surreptitiously. If this movie had been shot anywhere else, it might not have amounted to much.

Don't read this next bit if you don't want to know how the movie ends:

I'll say I didn't 100% understand the ending. Jim dies in their hotel bathroom, a victim of cat flu. (Is that supposed to be funny, given they're at the Mouse House?) A Disney crew comes and takes away the body, cleans the hotel room. As people flood into the parks, Jim's body is taken out the back and loaded into a van. This all seems very clear: You only see what they want you to see, you never know what horrors have happened in the very place you may be visiting or even the hotel room in which you're staying . . . It's all surface, it's all show. Sure, okay. It's a message we hear a lot.

But then a car pulls up to the front of the hotel and Jim gets out, along with a glamorous woman (from a fantasy he had during the "Soarin'" ride), and a little girl that one assumes is their daughter. Are they ghosts? Did Jim pull some bizarre trick? Does this have to do with all the stuff that occurs in a secret lab under Epcot? None of those explanations makes any real sense; there's not enough text to work with. So I found the ending unsatisfying in a way for that reason.

Still, in terms of entertainment value, I can at least honestly say I've never seen anything quite like Escape From Tomorrow. Again, it's really the Disney setting that makes it interesting; the story itself is decidedly thin. But it's weird. And it's different. If you want something well off the beaten track, Escape From Tomorrow is available On Demand.

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