After following its splash at Sundance Film Festival and Ebertfest (Roger Ebert’s Film Festival) this spring, I eagerly await the public release of the film “Escape From Tomorrow,” this Friday, October 11th. Its trailer is both enticing and riveting; while little information on the plot of the film is enclosed, the official trailer for “Escape From Tomorrow” teases at its particularly alluring aesthetic. This black-and-white psychodrama twists a family’s vacation to Disney World into a sinister, dark adventure for survival.
What is most interesting about this film for me, however, is not its Disney-dream-turned-nightmare theme, but the process through which it was made. With absolutely no permission from the Disney Corporation, Randy Moore not only shot this film at the Disney World and Disneyland theme parks, but, as the trailer suggests, utilizes its rides, themes and characters as the film’s central focus. As Moore explains in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, “I thought it should be morally acceptable to go in and do this … to me, Disneyland has transcended just being a theme park. It is an American landmark.”
Was Moore within his right to appropriate the Disney parks into his film without permission, especially considering the critical stance this horror film seems to take on Disney’s insistence on providing (or selling) happiness to all? Quite honestly, I’m still on the fence.
First and foremost, I definitely don’t think that making money off of other people’s material is justified. However, I think Moore has a point in saying that Disneyland has become an “American landmark.” Personally, I believe that Disney as a corporation has become so pervasive in American culture that we often forget to step back and question its content and influence. It is exciting to think about the potential of “contraband” filming like Moore’s to shed new light on old, ubiquitous material. I’m anxiously waiting for Friday’s opening of “Escape from Tomorrow,” maybe it will make me think twice before I buy my next ticket to “the happiest place on earth.”