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Film / Escape from Tomorrow

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People come here because they want to feel safe. But bad things happen everywhere... especially here.

A 2013 guerrilla horror film shot incognito in Disneyland and Disney World, Escape from Tomorrow follows disgruntled father of two, Jim White, as he navigates his family vacation in the wake of being fired from his job, all while the theme park he and his family are vacationing at becomes more ghoulish and strange.

The trailer can be seen here.

Contrast with The Further Adventures of Walt's Frozen Head.

This film contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality: The film uses different music for the rides and attractions than the Disney parks use in real life, in order to avoid copyright issues.
  • Accidental Child-Killer Backstory: The Other Woman was a Disney Princess until the day she hugged a little girl way too hard and accidentally strangled her.
  • All There in the Manual: The French girls are named Isabelle and Sophie.
  • Awful Wedded Life: Jim and Emily are constantly bickering over everything, and she shoves him away when he tries to kiss her on the Pooh ride.
  • Black Dude Dies First: It's easy to miss, but the first casualty of the film, the passenger on Thunder Mountain Railroad who gets decapitated, is a black man.
  • Black Eyes of Evil: Jim's son Elliot develops these.
  • Bland-Name Product: Neosporin is used in the film, but is referred to as "Geosporic". This appears to be a change in post-production, as if you look really carefully, you can barely make out lips saying "Neosporin" with audio dubbed over.
  • Composite Character: The park itself is a hybrid of Disneyland and Disney World, utilizing exhibits and imagery from both. It's clearly supposed to be Disney World, as it is referred to as such and they go to Epcot near the end of the film. Multiple reviewers have theorized that the discrepancies came up from needing reshoots but being unable to fly back to Florida, being forced instead to shoot in Anaheim.
  • Covers Always Lie: You may think this is a full-color animated horror film about Mickey and his friends becoming zombies just by looking at the poster, but while it is horror, it's a colorless live action film that has nothing to do with zombies.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: Done for artistic and pragmatic reasons. The nature of the shoot meant there was little ability to control the lighting, something that black-and-white makes much easier to hide, and just like The Twilight Zone (1959), this also adds to the surreal horror elements.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Between losing his job and being stressed about what should be a joyful vacation, Jim begins the film teetering on the edge. He shows hints that he is suicidal, and begins lusting after adolescents, both of which have the potential of pushing him over the horizon. He never crosses it, but the weird on-goings within the resort kill him off anyway.
  • Dies Wide Open: Jim's death from the "cat flu".
  • Ephebophile: Jim becomes interested in two adolescent French girls. While one of the actors was an adult at the time, in an interview, director Randy Moore states that the girls themselves about 15 or 16.
  • Erotic Eating: The two French girls eat bananas while Jim watches. The fanservice is made even more obvious given how bananas aren't exactly a popular theme park food.
  • Establishing Series Moment: The opening sequence depicting a standard ride on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad...and then, out of nowhere near the end, someone gets decapitated. It's clear from then on that this movie won't be subtle about contrasting the apparent pleasantness of Disney parks with sudden terror.
  • Evil Cripple: The man in a neck brace riding a motorized scooter torments Jim and his daughter.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • When Jim and his family first arrive at the park, a bunch of guests are seen coughing heavily. Later on, the park nurse mentions a "cat flu" which is apparently spreading around the park. Near the end of the film, Jim begins hacking up hairballs...
    • The Other Woman seems to know a lot of less-than-favorable facts about the park, including the fact that the cast members that play the princesses are actually prostitutes for Asian business men. Turns out she used to play a princess prior to the events of this film.
  • Gainax Ending: Jim becomes sick with the "cat flu," vomiting up hairballs and revealing catlike eyes. His patricidal son hears his cries for help, but ignores him until he succumbs. Park security covertly removes his body, loads it in a vehicle, and drives off. As they do, a second car pulls up to the hotel, containing Jim, the imaginary woman from earlier in the film, and his daughter, all of them preparing for their vacation.
  • Henpecked Husband: Jim comes across as this at points.
  • High-Class Call Girl: At one point Jim hallucinates that the Disney princesses are all escorts for Asian businessmen.
  • Hope Spot: The Other Woman is "defeated", but Jim still succumbs to the cat flu after making it back to his hotel room.
  • Hospital Hottie: The very attractive nurse who tends to Jim's kid when they scrape their knee.
  • Large Ham: The Other Woman, thanks to her Shatner-like diction.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The ending, where as Jim's body is hauled away, he emerges from another car with the imaginary woman from earlier in the film and his daughter. Even Trevor McCune, the actor who played the bellhop in that scene, admitted in the Some Jerk with a Camera review that he didn't know. He claims it's "supposed" to be heaven, but that the director wouldn't tell him outright, only that he might be playing Saint Peter and knew more than he let on.
  • Messianic Archetype: Walt Disney himself. The film has a shot of a statue of him that pans up to show "JESUS" written in the sky.
  • Mind Screw: Basically, the whole movie. We never understand whether the weird goings-on at Disneyland are Jim's delusions or something really paranormal.
    • There's also the fact that, since it was filmed in both Disney World and Disneyland but is set in just one, the layout of the park makes no sense.
  • Monumental Damage: One of Jim's hallucinations is a scene of one of Spaceship Earth's legs exploding, sending the "giant testicle" rolling around EPCOT, possibly squishing guests.
  • Mundane Horror: There is plenty of seemingly mundane scenes which have a really unsettling feel (for instance, the toilet scene with the wheelchair man).
  • Murder by Inaction: Elliot sees his father coughing up blood in the bathroom. Jim tells his son that he's sick and pleads with him to get help, but he just closes the door.
  • Nightmare Face: At one point, the French teenagers walk past Jim's wife Emily and one of them looks at her, her face briefly changing into one of these before reverting back to a perfectly pleasant smile. Jenny Nicholson pointed out that this makes absolutely no sense, given that Emily doesn't have any kind of hallucination or bizarre experience at any other point in the film.
  • No Name Given: The "Other Woman" (as she's cited in the credits) is never referred to by a real name, or even a real description. She was referred to as "emu woman" by Some Jerk with a Camera. Jenny Nicholson refers to her as the "sexy mom."
  • Off with His Head!: Twice! Once during the opening credits, a passenger on the Big Thunder Railroad roller coaster is decapitated by a low overpass and later, Jim's interrogator at Epcot is revealed to be an animatronic after Jim catches his head in the door.
  • Patricide: Jim's son begins trying to kill him.
  • The Plague: The "cat flu" is referenced to be something like this, although Jim is ultimately the only one to succumb to the disease, at least the only one to show symptoms.
  • Product Placement: Ultimate with the location of the film, the scientist from Siemens (who, in real life, sponsored a Disney World attraction) and a Neosporin-like drug whose real name is only heard, not seen.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Refusing to ride Spaceship Earth with the French girls begins Jim's redemption arc, culminating in him saving his daughter from the Other Woman. He succumbs to cat flu in the bathroom that night anyway.
  • Sanity Slippage: Jim. Oh boy, Jim.
  • Slasher Smile: As Emily sees one of the French girls passing her by, she has a creepy vision of her having this face.
  • Something Else Also Rises: While Jim ogles the French girls in the Tiki Room, a jet of water from one of the fountains slowly and suggestively rises higher.
  • Sound-Effect Bleep: The ubiquitous mega-corporation's name is bleeped out during Jim's interrogation...despite the fact Jim mentioned the park by name earlier in the film while at Epcot.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The luscious orchestral score of the trailer plays over increasingly nightmarish images.
  • Subverted Kids' Show: The Disney park depicted on screen and the movie's plot being set there plays this out.
  • Suspiciously Similar Songinvoked: Due to the immense risk of having to deal with Disney-copyrighted soundtracks, many of the songs present on the rides are replaced with original soundalikes. Yes, including "it's a small world".
  • Transferable Memory: Towards the end of the film, one of the security members seems to transplant memories of riding the Buzz Lightyear ride into Elliot, since he never got to ride it. He even affixes a souvenir pin to the boy's shirt.
  • Unusual Euphemism:
    • "I think you found my hidden Mickey!"
    • Jim remarks that Spaceship Earth looks like a "giant testicle" in favor of the more typical "golf ball" reference.