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Fantastic Fest review: ‘Escape from Tomorrow’

Joe Gross
jgross@statesman.com

This genuinely surprising, extremely uneven little movie was bound to be buzzy because of how it was made as much as what it’s all about: Writer/director Randy Moore shot the fantasy-horror film guerrilla-style, without permission, at Walt Disney World.

Jim (Roy Abramsohn) finds out he has lost his job on his and his family’s final vacation day. As the family trudges around the Magic Kingdom, It’s a Small World, their resort hotel and EPCOT, it becomes increasingly clear that either dad is losing it or something very strange is going on, what with the French girls, the seductive lady on the bench and the stomach-turning bathroom problems.

Filmed in black and white, which gives the proceedings an creepy, dream-logic feel, “Escape” is effective and disturbing in spite of rough pacing and sometimes clunky storycraft. It is especially resonant if you are a middle-aged parent who has ever taken kids on vacation. Graced with a brilliantly treacly score, “Escape” nails that we-stayed-here-one-day-too-long feeling as well or better than it does anything else. And it is strange and exciting to see Disney World and its imagery so separated from their usual controlled context. See this little miracle of subterfuge before it gets sued out of existence and everyone involved has to go into witness protection or something. (“Escape From Tomorrow” shows again at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 26)