The Laplace’s Demon is based on the theory that human beings are so predictable, there is not actually free will. You just set enough things in motion and people behave predictably. This is what appeals to me so much about the Saw films. Jigsaw has the foresight to know how degenerates will react to his traps. He’s thought several steps ahead. I used to think anyone was capable of outthinking the rest of the world if they put their minds to it, but now I wonder if this theory is true of all of us.
Eight scientists travel by boat to a remote mansion where the host doesn’t show. There is a VHS tape which they play, and it seems to talk to them in present tense conversation. Whoever made it anticipated their questions to the tee. They are unwittingly in an experiment to prove that human behavior is like clockwork, and the host has anticipated their every move.
Now, of course a scripted movie is a lot more controllable than real life, or is it? Maybe the screenwriter can’t actually write anything but the plot of this movie. Between that and the VHS fetish, Laplace’s Demon is my jam.
The experiment is represented in a model of the mansion, in which pawns move via gears and springs to represent the scientists’ movement throughout the house. A queen appears and starts killing the pawns, but the human equivalent is off camera. The Laplace Demon follows the classic horror movie theory that what you don’t see is scarier. The queen is the shark from Jaws.
Watching the queen stalk the pawns is genuinely suspenseful. The characters are smart enough to weigh all their options too. What if they just destroy the model? Well, the model isn’t what’s killing them. That would just eliminate their map. It’s fun to watch them all discover everything that’s been set up in the house for them. It’s kind of a deadly funhouse like my all time favorite horror movie The People Under The Stairs.
The Laplace’s Demon becomes a siege movie where the characters are second guessing their every move. This sounds like a good idea. But didn’t the experiment count on us coming up with that idea? It’s a real mind bender. Each character comes from a different scientific angle, although unfortunately I can’t quite list off the characters and their scientific worldviews. Perhaps on a second viewing.
Shot in black and white in Italian with English subtitles, The Laplace’s Demon was a nice surprise at Screamfest. Screamfest continues through October 17 in Hollywood.