A perfect series of murders, each more grotesque than the last, and only one connection. The Seven Deadly Sins. The movie “Se7en” written by Andrew Kevin Walker, and directed by David Fincher is a masterpiece in suspense, and horror. It is easily one of my favorites, simply because it is not like other horror films. The strong point of the film is not so much the murders, as much as the intelligence behind the murders, and the film as a whole. This is a very smart film, and causes the audience to think. It has everything that a good horror film should contain: a good screenplay, decent actors, a good antagonist, and great creativity behind the murders.
(And yes, there are spoilers in this, I will give Spoiler Warnings.)
The film revolves around two detectives in what is believed to be New York City. Morgan Freeman plays Detective Somerset, an older detective who is days from retiring, and has been partnered with Detective Mills (Brad Pitt) a detective who transferred in from another city with his wife Tracy (Paltrow) on request, to Somerset’s surprise. However, about as soon as they meet, they get thrown head first into an investigation that leads them on a roller coaster of the sick and depraved. However things only become more demented as things in the investigation and the lives of Mills and his wife take on completely new twists, especially in the last fifteen minutes of the film.
Like I said before, what is so wonderful about this film is the intelligence placed behind it. From the beginning of the film to the end you are on the edge of your seat anticipating the next move from either Mills and Somerset, or the killer, John Doe. The actors themselves did an amazing job portraying their own specific character which were all very different from the next. Brad Pitt was the perfect arrogant, hot head. Freeman was the perfect compliment to Pitt: Somerset was modest, calm, and collected. Paltrow was the exact opposite of Pitt in character portrayal as Tracy was very quiet, and often afraid of what was to become in their lives. However the star performance in the movie was Kevin Spacey’s portrayal of John Doe, the genius (if you will) behind the murders. His sick portrayal is like a wonderful twist between Hannibal Lecter, Billy Chapman (“Silent Night, Deadly Night”), and a pinch of Jigsaw with his incessant to teach people lessons at extreme degrees while degrading them with his high vocabulary and knowledge of literature, all at the same time!
Another great point to this film that is not often seen in a typical horror film is that it does take place over the course of a few hours, and you really see the stress that takes place in the lives of the people directly involved with the investigation. Even by placing Tracy into the film we see the effects that it has on her, someone who is not involved in the investigation. The film does not focus entirely on the murders, which to me is a huge plus. The story, and plot is just as important, if not more important, than the actual murders. (SPOILER) Walker builds suspense and gets the audience attached to the protagonists by showing scenes like Tracy telling Somerset that she is pregnant, and Somerset telling her that his girlfriend had an abortion many years previously. Even when you think that the film is at it’s end with Somerset and Mills coming face to face with their man, John Doe (Kevin Spacey), Walker surprises us with the high light of the film, a complete plot twist which involves an amazing scene of dialogue where Doe explains his motives to the detectives as they take him to find the last two “bodies”. Let’s just say that I was left walking away with a few choice words coming from my lips. (END SPOILER) This cinematography of the film is also very much unlike other horror films. Through out the entirety of the film there is a rather dark tone that over powers everything, almost taking the hope out of the people watching the film. For newer horror fans watching this it’s easy to tell how this movie inspired more current horror films like the “Saw” trilogy, and even “Hostel”. One thing that I have always held as an article of importance in horror films is the soundtrack. Like “Halloween”, “The Nightmare on Elm Street”, and “The Exorcist” music has played an important role. Howard Shore (Lord of the Rings soundtracks) did an amazing job of capturing the true depravity of the film by using a rather slow paced orchestration, and lower notes as opposed to higher ones. Fincher also varied the mood of the film by also using music from modern artists, and even a little Beethoven to lighten the mood.
This movie is a true feat of horror in everything including screenplay, story board, and murder. I highly recommend it to anyone that is a fan of films with wonderful script work and plot twists like “The Silence of the Lambs”, or “Silent Hill”. You will NOT be disappointed.