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Escape From Tomorrow

By JAY HORTON
Much as Disney World long ago declared itself beyond changing cultural tastes or socioeconomic inevitabilities, Escape From Tomorrow might rightly escape critique. The mere existence of a psychological horror flick shot on the grounds of the magic kingdom beggars reason, and the resulting film remains eminently watchable as a triumph of guerrilla technique. There's an inherent thrill knowing an indie auteur has lifted the keys to Disney World to illustrate the breakdown of a newly fired suburbanite on vacation with his wife and kids. The cinematographic constraints borne of necessity—sudden close-ups at desperate angles, crowd scenes with impossible depth of field, monochromatic contrast stuck at 11; Touch of Evil photobombed by Pluto and Goofy—crackle with a visual tension utterly wasted by the splintered narrative. Theme parks lend themselves to an embarrassed paranoia spurred by the revelry of strangers, and early scenes depict that underlying alienation with deft staging of familial discord. Finding a momentarily lost daughter kneeling before a creepily accented interloper creates sufficient dread. We don't need to be informed about a “cat flu” pandemic, and we shouldn't be subjected to the most puerile elaboration of Siemens' connection to Epcot Center. The distracting reliance upon salaciousness and morbidity (alongside a bizarre ’50s sci-fi interlude) feels like a too-obvious grasp at the cult market, which inevitably overwhelms the production's quieter pleasures. In surer hands, a truly frightening film could've exploited the natural tensions rippling beneath corporate playgrounds promising manufactured fun, but, alas, it's a small movie, after all.
 

Special Note

Cinema 21
 
  • Running Time:
  • Release Date: Tuesday, October 15, 2013
  • Critic's Score: C
  • Watch the trailer
 

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