Escape from Tomorrow hardly lived up to all its hoopla. I had been looking forward to it since first hearing about it, and was exceptionally curious to see this film that was shot in clandestine fashion within Disneyworld. I was shocked to find that long-time Disney ally Apple had made it available for rental, and then I steeled myself for an experience that might inflict a permanent scar on my warm fuzzy feelings about Disneyland, those happy memories from childhood. I need not have worried: Escape does not in any way blemish the Disney image.
In fact, even though there is extensive footage within the Magic Kingdom, it largely rings hollow. The film does nothing to add a new perspective to the Disney park experience. Worse, Escape from Tomorrow failed to tap into the mystique at its fingertips: the history, the lore, and the current embodiment of all things Disney and Disneyland. A holy trinity of narrative goldmines that was all but discarded.
Obviously, entry into hidden spaces cannot be expected; it’s enough of a feat to film within the park, but the former basketball court inside the Matterhorn, the tunnel labyrinth underneath the parks, secret apartments — these are spaces whose very existence should have been used to inspire the twisted fantasy that the movie aspires to. As for the areas available for filming, maybe spend less time on Big Thunder and shoot instead within Pirates, or do more with the Haunted Mansion. It’s as if the filmmakers were completely oblivious to most of what the park could so easily grant them.
As for positives, I will say the film had a more professional production polish than I expected. And there were a couple laughs — but just a couple. A.O. Scott of the Times:
None of it is as scary or as funny as it should be, and what starts out as a sly thumb in the eye of corporate power ends up as a muddled and amateurish homage to David Lynch.
Muddled and amateurish, yes. But I don’t see the David Lynch connection. There was nothing particularly David Lynch-ish about it. More perhaps like a modern-day, botched attempt at a Twilight Zone episode. But either way, this movie is a flop. A critic or two have claimed that Escape from Tomorrow is headed for cult-film status. I’m not sure about that — there’s just too little here. The only reason to watch this movie is to satisfy your curiosity regarding its production. I do love all the marketing graphics that were generated for the movie, including the latest poster (above).
It’s sad that for all the effort these guys put forth, they couldn’t come up with the easiest part: a good story. 3/10