Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Escape from Tomorrow

Get out your Mickey Mouse ears and secret cameras, we're reviewing Escape From Tomorrow!

Jim(Roy Abramsohn) is a recently unemployed actor taking his family on vacation to Disney World when strange and terrible things start to happen.

This movie is only really notable for the fact that the creators got most of the footage of Disneyland Guerilla-style without Disney's knowledge or permission. That's a feat in itself, but that's about the only thing that's noteworthy about the film. It feels like they got all this footage and had no idea what to do with it. I mean they've had to have a story thought out before filming because they show so much of the family of actors at actual Disneyland, but the story goes absolutely nowhere and makes no sense. It's a nice idea to do a horror movie at Disneyland without Disneyland's knowledge, but it might have been more worthwhile if they'd instead done a documentary about Disneyland, maybe even about the awful internship program.

Anyway, the movie is weird and not in a good way. Two thirds of the movie involves the father being a terrible parent and creeping over a couple of underage girls. No seriously, that's the major plot. I'm really not sure if we're supposed to identify with the father or not, but whether we are or not, you're going to spend over half the movie annoyed at how terrible this father is. This will be especially painful if you're tired of stories about angry dads or tragic dads. It's he's going through a mid-life existential crisis type thing, but I really can't for the life of me figure out why he's fixating on these two girls who are DEFINITELY underage. Like, he's at a popular tourist attraction, you'd think he'd find some other women to creep on just for some variety.

Well he does momentarily, and those are even weirder occurrences. There's an odd-acting nurse who treats his daughter for a scarped knee, and then there's a random woman who he cheats on his wife with and who also has a REALLY WEIRD AND TOTALLY UNRELATED B-story to the main horror plot. Oh also he feels no remorse for having an affair and goes right back to stalking the two underage girls afterwards. Our hero everybody!

He's a really terrible character and I can't stand him. I can't understand why we're spending so much time with him or why we should care when weird horrible things happen to him. But maybe he's so terrible that we're supposed to root for the strange things to kill him? But even then, it's not explained why these strange things are happening.

When we finally DO get to the weird stuff, it's all over the place and not at all explained what the hell is happening or why. There's something having to do with his imagination but it feels so tacked on to the found footage aspect of the movie that it hardly deserves attention or thought. It's one of those things where you just can't be bothered with logic and just have to go with it. The ending is kind of satisfying until it gets weird and goes right straight back to what the hell am I watching.

It's neat that they got all this footage without anyone noticing, and they must have had tons of people with secret cameras involved, with even a few people on the inside probably. I'd rather see a "making of" documentary of the movie than the movie itself. Since it's all in black and white, there are some legitimately well done shots with some nice dramatic lighting. And it's amazing how steady the camera work is considering what they had to do to get the footage. And then there are parts with obvious green screen that look terrible and instantly take you out of the experience.

Probably my favorite scene in the movie is when the father promises to take the son to the Buzz Lightyear ride and the mother takes the daughter on the teacups. The father and son wait in line for hours, while the mother and daughter get to go on a number of smaller rides. By the time the father and son finally get up to the front of the line, the ride closes down. It's like when you're watching a bad movie and waiting for something great to happen and then it just ends. Why couldn't they just stick with stuff like that?

I can't help thinking there's a better movie in here somewhere. Maybe if they had gone with the "family have a nice time out" story and left out the horrible dad character and all the weird stuff it would have been worth watching.

THE GOOD: Interesting idea of horror movie at Disneyland, it's a feat they got the footage, some nicely done camera work with good lighting.

THE BAD: Father character is horrible and unlikeable, story doesn't make sense at all, green screen not done well, horror stuff is barely there and not explained at all, movie makes no goddamn sense.

THE VERDICT: $$ This is only worth seeing for the footage they got and some nicely composed shots. Maybe a good movie to play a drinking game with to see how terrible the father is. Otherwise, don't bother.

MOVIES LIKE IT: Quarantine, Chernobyl Diaries 

ONE-SCENE METAPHOR: The father drags the young son to Space Mountain just so he can continue to creep on the two underage girls. The son clearly is not feeling it and throws up afterwards. A+ PARENTING HERE.

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