There Is No Escape
There’s something inherently unsettling about Walt Disney World; about the whole Disney Empire, really. The manufactured joy, so carefully perfected over decades of exacting and grueling labour, continues to ring hollow and empty all these years later. It’s as if that thick veneer of plasticine euphoria has been meticulously spackled over untold depths of despair and anguish. In the rank and file of the House of Mouse, there is no room for honest emotion or real human feeling. Everything must be smiles and happiness, all the time, until the end of time.
Compound that surreality with the incongruous experience of a theme park vacation—simultaneously the most fun and the most stressful event of the year, where the highs and lows of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual extremes go hand-in-hand like the hills and valleys of a roller coaster, turning you into human whiplash. Exaltation and exhaustion; the fantasy of escape and the reality of the ticket prices (and hotel, and air fare, and gas, etc.); the joy of the journey undertaken in the soul-sucking heat, while endless crowds press in on you from every angle. Like expansive herds of grazing beasts, the highs and lows of the human tide ebb and flow around you, reinforcing your hubris on one side and dashing your self-image on the other. Memories captured in time come surging back as if they happened yesterday. The linear measurement of time becomes an absurdity. Past, present, and future cease to exist independent of each other. All time is now—childlike optimism, confusing adolescent eroticism, and soul-crushing adult responsibilities come crashing together into unified chaos. All of this has happened before and all of this will happen again.
Writer-director Randy Moore comments on this fever-dream of hyperreality with his even more hyper-realistic acid-nightmare, “Escape From Tomorrow”, that movie that was infamously shot surreptitiously at Walt Disney Resorts, right under the nose of the Disney Gestapo.
But this is no mere gimmick. This is commentary made all the more prescient from within the belly of the beast itself. The plot of the narrative itself starts out straightforward but becomes more and more twisted and bizarre as the film goes on—the point not being the logic of the story itself, but rather the Lynchian horror unfolding and how it translates emotionally—digging past the forced corporate happiness and unearthing the spiritual and emotional truth underneath.
It’s at turns horrifying, disturbing, darkly hilarious, terrifying, strangely hypnotic and/or erotic, but always significant and thought-provoking. It’s the type of film you can’t get out of your head; the kind that intentionally leaves you questioning reality. It’s so much more than a gimmick or a statement—it’s a singularly expressionistic work of pop art insanity.