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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Escape from Tomorrow,” a psychosexual fantasy film set in Disney World, opens at 9 p.m. Friday at the Hippodrome.

The film presents relatable archetypes of American families in a familiar setting. Jim, a soft-bellied everyman, gets abruptly fired from his job at the start of the film. Rather than ruin the last day of his family’s vacation, he puts on a brave face and takes his wife and kids back into the Disney fervor.

As they try to enjoy the park, Jim begins to have strange visions. Although he tries to ignore the evil grins and hateful words that flash by him, his day at the park gets progressively surreal. As he slogs through the tedium of the day, he lecherously chases after teenage girls, is seduced by a former Disney princess and finds himself at the center of a bizarre sci-fi experiment.

One of the remarkable things about “Escape from Tomorrow” is how well-made the film is considering it was shot secretly on the grounds of Disney World and Disneyland. By carrying bare-bones equipment and rehearsing scenes in advance, director Randy Moore skirted Disney’s strict control of its public image and has so far avoided legal action.

But Moore’s debut is more than just a gimmick that has attracted attention in the film industry.

Having shot the film in black and white, he converts the cheery theme park visit into an eerie psychological exploration. It’s unique and darkly comic, but often uneven in its pacing.

There are several running themes in “Escape from Tomorrow,” but none of them really come to fruition.

Moore seems to be mainly concerned with chipping at the facade of “the happiest place on Earth.” It works some of the time. The undercurrent of sexuality invites both humor and disgust, while the themes of less-than-perfect families feel genuine.

“Escape from Tomorrow” feels like a personal, handmade film, with all the weird and uncomfortable moments it brings. Its negative representation of Disney’s ostensible perfection is effectively creepy and makes the film worth seeing despite the meandering plot.

Check it out if you enjoy the combo of a pseudo-David Lynch movie and Mickey Mouse.

A version of this story ran on page 8 on 10/24/2013 under the headline "Filmmaker produces creepy movie at Disney"

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