What do you get when you take ‘the happiest place on earth’, a writer with a dark, uniquely surreal vision, a daring cast and some handheld cameras? Escape from Tomorrow – a black-and-white horror-fantasy, filmed entirely in Disney theme parks and hotels, without permission.
The eerie tale takes us into the life of a down-on-his-luck father who has just lost his job while on holidays with his wife and two kids at Disney World. On their final day in the theme park he eyes off a couple of flirtatious French girls and proceeds to follow them around the park with his oblivious young children. However, throughout the course of the day, the father begins to see strange, haunting images and starts to realise everything within the park is not as happy and perfect as it seems. What happens next is a series of puzzling, mysterious and disturbing events.
Escape from Tomorrow first made waves within the industry when it screened at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year with many predicting that the film would never make it to cinemas. But now with the release of the first trailer, and a date set for screenings across America, the entertainment industry has been left scratching its head, as to why Disney hasn’t made moves to block the independent film from being released. Considering the company’s litigious history, no one can quite figure out why a film that so blatantly attacks the corporate behemoth’s key message seems to have made it through unscathed.
The writer and director from Burbank, California, Randy Moore is as surprised as anyone that his film ever saw the light of day. The 36-year-old father of two told the Los Angeles Times that he even went to such lengths as to take the film to South Korea for editing in an attempt to keep the movie a secret.
Shot guerrilla-style over the course of 10 days inside Disney World and then two weeks in Disneyland, actors referred to their script on their iPhones, while the crew used handheld Canon cameras to capture the action. But Moore still wonders how they managed to have over 12 turns on the Small World ride without being noticed by security. “I was surprised the ride operators weren’t a little more savvy,” said Moore in an interview with The New York Times.
While Moore frequented the Disney theme parks as a child and has taken his own children multiple times, it seems his film is a commentary on the commercialisation of what was once a grand dream that began with Walt Disney himself and evolved into something very different. “Look, I have amazing memories as a kid from going to the parks. I think Walt Disney was a genius. I just wish his vision hadn’t grown into something quite so corporate,” said Moore to The New York Times.
Perhaps the happiest place on earth is just a thinly veiled excuse for a very successful money-making machine after all. As the narrator in the trailer states, “People come here because they want to feel safe. Bad things happen everywhere ... especially here. You can’t be happy all the time”.
Watch the trailer below for your first and possibly only look at the film here in Australia.
Escape from Tomorrow is due for release in limited theatres across America and Video On Demand on October 11.