Published on October 12th, 2017 | by voxx0
Released: 5 January 1996
Length: 127 minutes
Director: David Fincher
Cast: Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey, Gwyneth Paltrow
Plot: Two detectives a rookie David Mills (Pitt) and a veteran set to retire William Somerset (Freeman) hunt a sadistic serial killer (Spacey) who uses the seven deadly sins for his motives.
“What’s in the box?!” Brad Pitt’s Detective David Mills gormlessly gawks at Kevin Spacey’s John Doe towards the end of David Fincher’s crime caper ‘Se7en’. Back in 1995 when it was released it wasn’t just a movie showing what happens when a villain wins against the good guys; it is first and foremost, and sometimes quite literally, a mind f*ck. As soon as we open Fincher grosses out his audience with a collection of images of several different homicides that have erupted around an anonymous city. Struggling to put your mind at ease while violently erasing what you have just seen, the film continues to erupt, from the fast paced middle section through to the reveal of the vicious psychopath, all the way to the desolate end section. It goes for the gut, and like an insidious gnawing through the pit of your stomach, it never lets up. So be warned, you’re in for some uncomfortable viewing.
Set in an anonymous city in an anonymous state where it rains pretty much every day and nobody seems to have paid the electricity bill, a vicious serial killer is slaying some of the city’s citizens according to the bible’s meaning of the seven deadly sins, Greed, Gluttony, Sloth, Lust, Envy etc… with each of the victims being killed by the way they committed their sin. A rich lawyer is forced to cut off a pound of flesh (Greed); an obese man is set to eat through the food set on a table (Gluttony); a man is left to dry out on a bed after an immense amount of hard drugs (Sloth); a prostitute (Lust) and…well you get the picture, and Fincher continues to set each of these killings against the dark backdrop of a dank and/or damp room. Assigned to the case of solving each of these murders is Detective William Somerset (Freeman), a veteran set to retire after 35 years on the force, and his partner, rookie Detective David Mills, who’s only had a few months on the force. What they soon find shocks them to the point that they are almost pale.
Granted, Fincher may let everything just fall masterfully across on the screen, but what he does throughout the rest of the film is he lets his audience guess the outcome; maybe the clues that are left behind on the crime scenes, the intricate details left in the blood writing from the victims or maybe the timely reveal of a madman who’s ahead of the game every time. The truth is there’s no way of knowing the outcome until Fincher wants you to know and the film pays off for that in every aspect. And he never fails to keep your brain scrambling as you desperately try to figure out every piece of the puzzle.
In every scene ‘Se7en’ is absolutely wonderful because it’s not an action film where we see our heroes ruthlessly kill or capture a vicious crime lord – granted it’s action packed and there is a crime lord but it’s different and Fincher manages to keep us gripped. It holds your interest through the inner workings of horror, thrills and the mind blowing tactics of Spacey’s sadistic psychopath, an unknown man who works on his motives to achieve the seemingly impossible; he’s a simple man who has simple needs. At the time of meeting him face-to-face, Mills and Somerset see that he’s a smooth talker who’s well-versed in the bible and who has rubbed off his finger prints so as not to leave any on his crafted crime scenes – the most important aspect they see is that he’s covered in blood as if he’s murdered again. Though whom he has murdered leaves them, and you, guessing, leading to an uncomfortable, an unpredictable yet stunning ending.
With an ending that will have you clutching your stomach, scratching your head and aggressively applauding all the way until the end credits roll up past the screen and the curtain has closed you won’t be able to contain your feelings…and we really don’t blame you if that happens. The thrills are tight, sometimes uncompromising, sometimes nightmarish but always ruthless, keeping Fincher’s filming elements such as the clever dialogue, the actions of some of the characters, the lighting and the setting all smoothly crafting a masterful painting – which as the film crawls up to its final moment glistens with a finishing glossy shine. Indeed, there’s no doubt that what Fincher has created here can be seen as pure cinematic gold as over the years this has stood the test of time, becoming a class act and one that still shines on multiple viewings.
VERDICT: Masterful, nightmarish, tight and unforgettable, ‘Se7en’ goes down as a brutal and brilliant masterpiece which today is known as one of cinema’s best.
Want to relive it? Se7en returns to Parkway Cinema, Cleethorpes for a Throw-back-Thursday special tonight, Thursday 12 October, at 8:00pm
- By Corey Denford