The Laplace's Demon

11/06/2018 08:04

Film: The Laplace’s Demon

Year: 2017

Director: Giordano Giulivi

Writer: Duccio Giulivi and Giordano Giulivi

Starring: Silvano Bertolin, Ferdinando D’Urbano and Duccio Giulivi



This film was one that I had heard about on a couple of podcasts I listened to last year when it was making its festival rounds. I was intrigued by the concept of it and it was on my short list of films to see. I did get the opportunity when it came to the Nightmares Film Festival. The official synopsis is does free will exist? A team of scientists invited to an isolated mansion are about to participate in the ultimate experiment to find out.

First thing to kick off here is that this film is very arthouse. It is filmed in black and white and it is also contained. It kicks off with a group of scientists on a boat going to an island with a mansion on it. There a mysterious professor wants to learn more about their experiment. What they are trying to do is predict how many pieces a glass that is falling will break into when it hits. Everyone that is on this boat is a member of the team aside from Roy (Alessandro Zonfrilli) who is the captain of their ship.

When they land, Roy doesn’t want to go inside, but he’s told that he needs to in order to get paid as none of them are the ones that commissioned him. They do and a lift takes them up to the main floor. They go into a room where they find a model of the house they are in. There are eight pawns, like from chess, which are moving exactly how they are. The first thought is that someone is watching and controlling them. Upon further inspection, this is a machine working on it own.

A tape is left for them and it is played. The professor who invited them tells them what he is conducting his own experiment with them. He believes that he has come up with the formula for Laplace and that he has predicted their every movement. In order to prove this, he has a moving coffin that will take them one at a time. In the model it is signified as the queen.

This group of scientists tries to find a way to prove that freewill exists as they are killed by the machine in the house. They are also trying to figure out who the professor is as well. This becomes an interesting look at how smart the mysterious professor is and them trying to be unpredictable, but no matter what they do, it still seems to be part of the plan that the formula predicted.

Now upon viewing this film, it hit me harder than I thought it would. The concept of fate and freewill is one that is quite interesting. There are some who think that there is a God and that he has given us freewill to make all our choices. This is interesting though, because many also believe everything is according to the almighty’s plan, this would mean there is no freewill. This film is trying to prove the latter. The Laplace’s Demon that is referred to is that if you can figure out the formula, then you can predict what everyone will do. This experiment in the house is trying to prove that it has been solved on a smaller scale and as the film goes it, it does seem like it has. It is referred as a demon since someone would need to have supernatural involvement in order to figure it out as whoever did could pretty much play ‘God’.

If you know anything about me, I struggle with being agnostic and atheist. This film I’d say is definitely the latter. I actually really liked the ending of this film as well. To get there, it is a slow-burn. It does build tension as the coil frees its energy and the moving death trap comes. Trying to see them come up with a way to stop it is interesting. Going from there, seeing them trying to come up with a way and continue to fail also builds the tension for the film. I really liked the reveal as to the professor was and the breakdown that happens in the final choice. The lasting image still makes you wonder if there is freewill or not.

Something that really messed with me from this film was the tape. It is perfect with the questions they are asking. It is even paused and rewound, but it still is like they are talking directly to him. It definitely is insane and I thought it was a good touch for sure.

In order for this film to play out how they wanted, it had to be acted well which I think it is. Each of the scientists is different and has their own personality. Karlheinz (Silvano Bertolin) is probably the smartest, but during all of this he is staring at the model trying to figure it out. He is obsessed with it to be honest. Herbert (Ferdinando D’Urbano) is the ‘hero’ of the group. He might not be the smartest, but he is doing what he can to save everyone. Jim Bob (Duccio Giulivi) is kind of the goof ball that no one takes seriously. He isn’t funny per se, but he does have some outlandish ideas. Sophia (Carlotta Mazzoncini) is the woman of the group who the men try to protect. The last one I’ll speak directly about is Isaac (Walter Smorti), because he is portrayed as a coward and I like how things play out with him.

There’s not really a lot in the way of effects for the film. We do get the giant moving casket that takes the people away. The first image is that there are two eye holes in the middle of it. When someone is taken, you can still see that before it flees. It also has two glowing eyes at the top that are eerie. I thought its movements looked real and just made it creepier. This film also had some beautiful cinematography. I also thought that filming it black and white also adds another dimension to the film.

Now with that said, this is another film that I don’t know if it is for everyone. I thought it has a pretty interesting concept that again I don’t think everyone will like. The deeper question of whether there is freewill or not is something that I really enjoyed. I thought the acting helps bring to life. The effect of the moving casket was creepy and the tension of trying to stop it or get away helps this film. It is sill a slow-burn. I thought it was shot beautifully as well. The soundtrack of the film didn’t really stand out. I know there is a record playing and the conversation with the professor is interesting. I have stated a few times, but this is filmed in black and white. It is also in Italian, so I had to watch it with subtitles. If these aren’t issues, I think this is a smart horror film that makes you ponder what the real meaning is. I thought it was overall a good film.


My Rating: 8 out of 10