Laplace’s Witch (2019) – movie review

Laplace's Witch American Poster

The latest movie by horror legend Takashi Miike has appeared on my most anticipated horror films of 2019 list, where I said how the movie was marketed as a drama but, knowing Miike, that could still leave room for gore and horror elements.

After watching Laplace’s Witch, I have to say that the movie – albeit riddled with supernatural elements – is more of a sci-fi thriller then a horror film. Laplace’s Witch follows an environmentalist who’s asked to solve two murders based on the sites where the bodies were found and to determine whether hydrogen sulphide poisoning was accidental or not. When the main character goes on the crimes scenes, both times he comes across a mysterious woman (a gorgeous one, by the way) who might be more than what she seems.

Continue reading and check my final grade below… 

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The premise sounds very intriguing to me, especially if handled by a pure talent as Miike. Unfortunately, Laplace’s Witch is quite a departure from what the Japanese director for hire has made us used to: this is quite a slow-paced, sciencey and self-absorbed film.

Don’t get me wrong, there are many aspects that make the film watchable and somewhat poetic, most of which have to do with Miike’s style and cinematography. From the get-go, the viewer experiences some breathtaking shots in the snow, helped by astounding locations and great camera movements.

Yet, to go along with the great visuals Laplace’s Witch relies on a fantastic score that mixes Alan Walker songs with classic music, making for a nearly surreal experience that makes me want to buy the soundtrack as soon as possible.

Also, the acting is constantly solid, especially when it comes to the leads: the scientist who leads the investigation does a great job at showing a wide range of emotions and the mysterious girl is amazing at holding back her feelings on purpose. Yet, at one point a crucial character is introduced and the actor playing him truly elevates the level of tension in the film.

The main problem with Laplace’s Witch, though, is that the story itself isn’t interesting. In other words, at its core this movie is boring. I mean, the main plot could potentially be very compelling, but the script chooses to focus on very specific and detailed scientific aspects that detract from the entertaining parts of the movie. In all fairness, as far as I understood, the whole time loop thing is strictly based on actual science, which is impressive but it doesn’t make for an exciting viewing experience.

At the same time, Laplace’s Witch is devoid of any actual tension (for the most part) and appears extremely tamed in comparison to both Miike’s catalogue and thrillers in general.

Personally, I found the ending very underwhelming as well: you get most of the answers you need, but there’s no final punch just like the rest of the movie doesn’t have many peaks in tension.

Honestly, I haven’t got much more to say about Laplace’s Witch. Although I don’t consider it a bad movie per se, I wouldn’t feel comfortable to recommend it unless you’re a die-hard fan of Miike and, just like me, you’re trying to watch all of his movies.

Laplace’s Witch                    5.5/10

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