Friday, October 24, 2014

30 Days of Nightmares #24: ESCAPE FROM TOMORROW (2013)

The Story: A man in the midst of a mid-life crisis takes his family on an ill-fated trip to Disney World.

Expectations: About twenty days into this marathon, I started getting a little fatigued.  (I blame the found footage movies.)  I was eager to watch something other than the usual horror movie formulas.  A friend suggested this offbeat title, which generated a lot of controversy because it was shot in secrecy, using carefully concealed cameras, at Disney World.  I didn't know much else about the film, but the poster art led me to expect an irreverent assault on the ultimate family-friendly brand.  Maybe something like WESTWORLD... with Mickey Mouse and friends hacking up little kids.  Sounds like fun, right?

Reaction: Instead, what I got is an occasionally surreal but mostly tiresome chronicle of a horny middle-aged schlub's nuclear family meltdown.  Imagine NATIONAL LAMPOON'S VACATION without the humor (in other words: NATIONAL LAMPOON'S EUROPEAN VACATION), and you'll have a pretty good idea of what to expect.  Some critics praised ESCAPE FROM TOMORROW as a Lynchian satire on the Disneyfication of America, and a variation on THE SHINING in the happiest place on earth.  I can only assume that they saw the movie that they wanted to see, instead of the movie that actually exists.  I can't blame them... The concept is a bit of inspired lunacy, and the behind-the-scenes stories of guerilla filmmaking in a place that guards its sacrosanct image with the fervor of a fundamentalist megachurch are inspirational.  Alas, the film's "horrors" (kids with black eyes, infidelity, vomit) are mostly banal.  Instead of being fearful or fascinated, I found myself getting depressed by watching this guy chase tail and get drunk in front of his surprisingly well-behaved kids.   Occasionally he hallucinates some striking horror-movie imagery, but the real victims in this story are the kids and the real horror movie is about bad parenting and disllusionment of the innocent.  I'm not sure why that wasn't the focus. 

Most Nightmare-Worthy Moment: Cat flu.

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