Giordano Giulivi’s second movie, ‘The Laplace’s Demon,’ focuses upon a small group of scientists working on a mathematical formula that can predict the outcome of the apparently random. Namely when a glass falls to the ground, how many pieces will it break into. They are invited to an isolated mansion by the ‘Crazy Scientist’ Professor Cornelius to become part of an experiment similar to their own with horrific consequences.
‘The Laplace’s Demon’ is what it is, a Thriller based on the Determinist principle, that reality is a mathematically predictable system, and once you understand the system you could use a simple formula to predict the future. So how can a group escape fate, destiny, mathematical determinism, especially when their every action is being played out in a giant model of the mansion.
At first glance this pays homage to the films from the 20’s to the 60’s, the expressionist use of deep black shadows, a fixed frowning glare and exaggerated expression that all the actors seemed to foster with relish, and the ever-present threat of the Black Queen hunting down another member of the cast influenced by Mario Bava. All while still keeping it in a modern setting. Then something else sprang to mind, a lot of this film has been done in CGI, a lattice gate on the lift, sections of the house and the model, it reminded me of games like ‘The 7th Guest’ and ‘Under a Killing Moon,’ from the early to mid 90’s. Giulivi made a very strong opening move and played out the earliest disappearances through the CGI model. Pawn’s slide along pursued by the Black Queen, shadow games played out exactly by the numbers, literally in the case of this film. This leaves so much up to the imaginations of the audience as a chess piece slides across the model while the soundscape is filled with earth-shaking impacts and screeching of metal. Yet somehow you could easily imagine playing as the characters each desperately try to escape something that knows everything.
This film loves tension, constantly piling tense looks onto tense pauses with a smattering of more tension, with an ending that was a satisfying payoff.
My only issue was with the music, the soundtrack was like open license muzak. Dampening some of the scenes and nearly wrecking others. With a better soundtrack, something reminiscent of the era it tries to replicate, visually this film would have been great. As it is, it’s still good, but I’d be hard pressed adding it to my collection or watching it a second or third time.
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