Brow Beat

We Get to See This Crazy Movie After All

A still from the trailer for Escape From Tomorrow

Though it premiered at Sundance earlier this year, it seemed unlikely that those who missed the festival would ever get to see Escape From Tomorrow, Randy Moore’s surrealistic neo-noir film about a family coming apart while on vacation. That’s because the director’s debut employed a particularly bold—and possibly illegal—approach to on-location shooting: Moore, along with his cast and crew filmed it at Disney theme parks in Anaheim, Calif. and Orlando, Fla. without permission.

Here’s how it all went down, as I explained in a previous Brow Beat post back in January:

Moore and a small group of actors and crew went undercover as tourists for just under a month in order to film the movie. Scripts and all shooting directions were kept on their iPhones so that “when actors and crew were looking down between takes, passersby just thought they were glancing at their messages.” The actors wore the same clothes every day, but park employees seemed unsuspecting—perhaps, Moore has noted, because there are so many people who come and go through the park every day, taking pictures and recording home movies constantly.

At the time of its Sundance premiere, Disney had yet to release a statement on Escape From Tomorrow, and it seems to have stayed mum since then, at least publicly. But the film has a theatrical and video-on-demand release date of Oct. 11, and the official trailer is here to unsettle you.

Featuring a sharp disclosure at the beginning (“The following picture has NOT been approved for all audiences by The Walt Disney Company”), the black and white trailer emphasizes its disturbing take on the wide world of Disney. A young boy’s eyes turn creepily black, the cheerful imagery of the “It’s a Small World” ride is juxtaposed with the line “You can’t be happy all the time,” and Epcot Center appears to roll into a panicked crowd—all scored to Zbigniew Preisner’s haunting compositions for Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Blue.

How has Moore been able to get away with this? Disney may have had a case against Moore if he and his crew violated any of the theme park’s regulations through their covert actions, but the company likely thought it was in its best interest not to draw more attention to the film by taking legal action. (They remained similarly tight-lipped on the 2010 documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop, which also filmed at Disneyland sans permission.) What’s more, Escape From Tomorrow is likely an example of “fair use,” employing the theme parks as a means of commenting upon them in a creative way.

Whatever the case, the great trailer makes me excited to see Disney World in an entirely new, and much more sinister, light.