During the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, a film premiered that is being hailed as 'the ultimate guerilla' film. Escape from Tomorrow is a creepy psycho-thriller indie that was shot by green writer/director Randy Moore nearly 100 percent in The Walt Disney World/Disneyland theme parks. The story depicts the Disney vacation of a typical American family and their last day in the parks when Jim, the family’s patriarchal head, begins to experience increasingly vivid visions of his wife, children, and other park-goers changing into something of a personified evil. It seems to be totally sick and twisted and awesome. Check out the trailer here.
Now, the really intriguing part about this film is how it was shot. Of course, The Walt Disney Co. would never allow anyone to shoot such a large amount of footage inside their parks, particularly when it will be complied into something that will cast the ‘Disney Vacation Experience’ into such a negative light. Therefore, Moore and his team produced the film almost entirely undercover, using DSLR cameras (handheld still cameras that are video capable, so it would appear they were just taking photographs), iPhones to hold scripts and call sheets, and other more subtle means of production in order to avoid being caught and thrown out of the parks. Natural lighting was also used in nearly every shot, which forced Moore into choosing to distribute the film mono chromatically to avoid being faulted for lighting mistakes as well as giving a more classic touch to the ironic circumstances this film creates.
The film premiered at Sundance and was received relatively well, with some critics praising it’s ballsy nature and other’s pointing out the technical problems has a result of its stealth production process. Currently, it maintains a 83 percent ‘fresh’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Distribution will most certainly be tricky, as there’s a rather massive chance Disney will start a legal battle over the film’s rampant violation of copyright infringement. The tentative plan is to release nationally on October 11 and, simultaneously, make the film available for streaming so that those who would not have access to a limited release feature could watch it from their homes. We’ll have to see how long it takes for Disney to decide to take action because I anticipate it won’t be very long.
I’m not a huge fan of horror films (I nearly ran out of the theater the first time I saw the Insidious: Chapter 2 trailer a few weeks ago) and I don’t even think it will be a particularly good film. I am just totally enamored with Moore’s ability to shoot so much footage in a park that’s basically in total security lock-down 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. The entire idea that a tiny indie film managed to outmaneuver the most powerful media producer/distributor in the world is pretty impressive. It’s not the first time it’s happened (Exit Through the Giftshop) but it is the first time someone has penetrated the system so thoroughly. It's totally fascinating and terrifying and will probably leave everyone unable to visit a Disney theme park without yielding nightmares ever again. But that's the fun of it, right?