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"Escape from Tomorrow": highly-anticipated, poorly executed

By Ohad AmramColumnist

Randy Moore’s highly controversial and much-anticipated writing and directorial debut, “Escape from Tomorrow,” has been in the spotlight now for months and finally hit select theaters Oct. 11. The film, which was shot entirely at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland, was produced guerilla-style, independently with a low budget and without any permit or notification to the Disney company. Surprisingly, the film was then picked up for distribution. However, everyone involved in the project is still undergoing a variety of lawsuits that have inadvertently caused quite the buzz, among critics and moviegoers alike. The film chronicles the last day of one family’s vacation in Disney World. The father Jim (Roy Abramsohn), gets fired from his job via phone call, setting a dark and twisted backdrop. Jim, his needy wife Emily (Elana Schuber) and their uncontrollable children, Sara (Katelynn Rodriguez) and Elliot (Jack Dalton), head for their last day of thrills at America’s arguably most joyous and beloved tourist attractions. The first half of the film depicts Jim hallucinating on different rides with his family, where he envisions demonic creatures and fantasizes about two preteen French girls. The second half of the film, Jim is being stalked by a handicapped man, romantically pursues an ex-Disney princess in secret and is warned by a park nurse of an airborne virus that is claiming the amusement park. All of these incidents appear to be underdeveloped plot points that essentially amount to nothing. They’re unsatisfying and occur solely for the sake of happening. Stylistically speaking, the tone of the film is eerie and original. The strategic use of black and white color amidst the backdrop of Disney makes for a captivating perspective of the theme park. Among its many flaws, however, is the blatant use of green screen. Moments in which the actors are standing before a green screen, when it is not properly concealed, take the audience out of the experience. The premise of “Escape from Tomorrow” is undoubtedly that bad things can happen everywhere – even in one of the most jubilant and adored places in the nation. While this may be the case, the film never really explains why. The characters are used merely as ploys to convey a story that amounts to nothing more than a good idea. Lastly, perhaps the most jarring thing about the entire film is the forced, inauthentic performances delivered by each of the film’s actors. The meaning of the film feels contrived due to the tongue-in-cheek fashion in which the roles are portrayed. Overall, “Escape from Tomorrow” disappoints, as Moore took very bold steps but these steps ultimately were not followed through. Unfortunately for those with high hopes that “Escape from Tomorrow” would deliver, many viewers were disappointed. It managed to generate the proper buzz and hinted at a shred of talent for rising filmmaker Moore, but ultimately the film failed in its conveyance. Despite this, Moore is a rising talent to watch. With a bigger budget, this ambitious filmmaker could potentially make groundbreaking cinema. The intentions behind a gripping story are present, although the delivery of that story is in its premature stages. For “Escape from Tomorrow,” the plot and character development are simply half-cooked.

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