Screamfest 2017: The Laplace's Demon FILM REVIEW
THE LAPLACE'S DEMON
Director: Giordano Giulivi
Screenplay: Giordano Giulivi and Duccio Giulivi Story by Giordano Giulivi, Duccio Giulivi, Silvano Bertolin and Ferdinando D'Urbano
Starring: Silvano Bertolin, Ferdinando D'Urbano, Duccio Giulivi, Carlotta Mazzoncini, Simone Moscato, Walter Smorti, Simone Valeri, Alessandro Zonfrilli
In Italian with English subtitles.
Running time: 1 hour 49 minutes
**** out of *****
Photo: Astrolab Pictures
Eight people find themselves embroiled in a mystery when then are trapped in an isolated mansion on an uninhabited island in THE LAPLACE'S DEMON.
Going into this film I knew next to nothing about it. Other than reading the brief synopsis about the film 'Eight people are imprisoned in a secluded mansion on an uninhabited island. After waiting in vain for the host, they find a model with eight self-propelled pawns that reproduces the movements of each group member in real time' I was entering this film completely cold. Nothing could have prepared me for the mind-bending, thought-provoking and engaging mystery which these filmmakers have created. THE LAPLACE'S DEMON is a well-crafted modern day thriller which recalls the great gothic black and white mysteries of the 60s and one particularly influential TV show, THE TWILIGHT ZONE.
Discussing the plot or any details, no matter how insignificant, may prove to be a spoiler and you don't want this one spoiled. It's the sort of film that really requires you to pay attention, it can become a bit complex, but fortunately it is not that difficult to become invested in the characters or to have a general sense of what's going on. The story created by Giordano Giulivi, Duccio Giulivi, Silvano Bertolin and Ferdinando D'Urbano certainly must have required multiple passes as they made certain every 't' was crossed and 'i' dotted. It's a very tight story and screenplay which could have unraveled if one thread was left exposed but it appears they were quite vigilant.
The film truly evokes the look and feel of the classic gothic horror/mysteries which played in theatres back in the 1950s and 1960s. Films like THE HAUNTING (1963), THE INNOCENTS (1961) and TEN LITTLE INDIANS (1965) may come to mind while watching this feature. While it certainly looks like it was shot digitally, Ferdinando D'Urbano's cinematography is still visually arresting and the black and white imagery retains a certain filmic quality. The pitch black shadows present in much of the film really plays up the tension in any given scene.
Having a pair of the story writers also serving as editors on the film certainly has its advantages. Ferdinando D'Urbano and Giordano Giulivi do a solid job of editing the film making sure the film is never too convoluted, never slows down and they really know how to milk a scene's tension for all its worth. There are a number of highly effective scenes in the film which will likely have you on the edge of your seat and much of that is due to how the scenes were edited. In one scene in particular you can feel the tension building and when the release occurs you can hear the gasps echoing throughout the theatre.
For a film of this nature the performances are quite instrumental in the story connecting with the audience. The actors need to breath life into these characters, make them feel real. Well, that is certainly true for any film but in terms of this one's story everyone needed to be convincing. If you can't buy one particular person in the part they are playing it could have an adverse affect on the viewing experience. The easiest way to describe is that if you aren't convinced that they know and understand the words coming out of their mouths well that just about ruins it. As it turns out, some of the creative minds behind the film also portray characters in the film and their familiarity with the material certainly comes into play.
Director and co-writer Giordano Giulivi's sophomore effort is an ambitious film which could have easily collapsed under its own weight. While the creative team's fingerprints are all over the project it's thanks to Giulivi's assured hand and focused vision that the film ultimately works. THE LAPLACE'S DEMON is very much a 21st century film but it certainly would not have felt out of place if it were released in the 1950s or 1960s. It's a compelling mystery with thought-provoking ideas which will likely result in many stimulating discussions well after the film has ended and may have you wanting to watch it again with awakened eyes.
***** = Outstanding ****1/2 = Excellent **** = Very Good ***1/2 = Above Average
*** = Good **1/2 = Mediocre ** = Fair *1/2 = Poor * = Bad 1/2* = Abysmal