Se7en (1995)



“Apathy is the solution. I mean, it's easier to lose yourself in drugs than it is to cope with life. It's easier to steal what you want than it is to earn it. It's easier to beat a child than it is to raise it. Hell, love costs: …“Apathy is the solution. I mean, it's easier to lose yourself in drugs than it is to cope with life. It's easier to steal what you want than it is to earn it. It's easier to beat a child than it is to raise it. Hell, love costs: …

“Apathy is the solution. I mean, it’s easier to lose yourself in drugs than it is to cope with life. It’s easier to steal what you want than it is to earn it. It’s easier to beat a child than it is to raise it. Hell, love costs: it takes effort and work.”


What’s in the box? That’s the million dollar question that has us wondering what John Doe (Kevin Spacy) used in his master plan. That master plan which molded him into a serial killer using the seven deadly sins to plan his victims. Those sins in order are Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Lust, Pride, Envy & Wrath. As a premise, it’s pretty interesting and quite disturbing given how obsessed humans are with serial killers. This type of premise shoulders a ton of weight to its dark story making the audience feel the burden of its main characters.

Detective David Mills (Brad Pitt) gets reassigned and relocated to a place where it never stops raining becoming partners with detective William Somerset (Morgan Freeman). Somerset is retiring in exactly seven days. Pretty ironic if you ask me. The detectives are called to a home where a man who’s overweight is dead in his kitchen (Gluttony). The next murder involves a defense attorney who must cut a pound of flesh off of himself (Greed). The third murder victim is a drug dealer and pedophile who is strapped to a bed and has had his picture taken every day for a year (Sloth). The fourth murder involved a prostitute and her patron (Lust) and the fifth murder involved a model who is mutilated by Doe and commits suicide instead of living life disfigured (Pride).

“So many freaks out there doin’ their little evil deeds they don’t wanna do… “the voices made me do it. My dog made me do it. Jodie Foster told me to do it”.

These murders happen during Somerset’s final week. He clearly doesn’t want this case as it could take years to complete yet is put on it despite his objections. While getting to know each other Somerset becomes close with David’s wife Tracy (Gwyneth Paltrow) who confides with Somerset that she is pregnant but hast told David yet. Neither David nor William know it yet, but Tracy becomes the sixth victim of John Doe because of the normal life David and she have (Envy). This death leads to the final one where David is overcome with anger and rage killing John Doe in asking the famous question (Wrath).

Without the chemistry between Pitt and Freeman, this film doesn’t work – it’s critical to the films success. They both give exceptional performances that drive this film forward. They are however complete opposites of each other which makes their partnership unique. They say opposites attract and that includes detectives. Mills is more optimistic and eccentric where Somerset is laid back more cerebral and plays by the rules (somewhat). We’ve seen these character traits before, its nothing new, but the performances by Freeman and Pitt add a fresh coat of paint to these personalities. They complement each other the way Yin and Yang are complementary by the balance each force brings the other.

Screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker who is a former Tower Records employee creates a city where it rains every day and the decay, disturbing citizens and dreariness is the main focus. Who in their right mind would want to relocate to this kind of city? The city itself could be classified as a character as it mirrors the gruesome murderer who inhabits it. Everywhere you turn, there’s another dark corner that no one should go down yet there are people who wouldn’t have a second thought of discovering those shadows. This type of city is comparable to Gotham City and its horrible living conditions.

“Wanting people to listen, you can’t just tap them on the shoulder anymore. You have to hit them with a sledgehammer, and then you’ll notice you’ve got their strict attention.”

Even with the bleakness of the environment, director David Fincher finds a comfortable nature in this mystery. His fast paced directing style works well for this type of murder mystery. The films pace is set the moment the two detectives are introduced to each other, moving steadily between each of the murders. While not lingering too long on one specific sin. The script suffers however by not developing the villain completely. We don’t know his motivations for these murders just that he’s planned this out for well over a year. It’s not so much Spacy’s fault – he plays the villain role well with his terrifyingly calm voice inflections. 

Se7en does a fantastic job digging into a persons mind by presenting situations to the main character and having them react to the circumstances. With each murder David Mills’s optimism is slowly broken down to the point that he can be seen as the villain instead of the victim. We assume that John Doe commits that horrendous act at the end and it’s how Mills reacts to the situation which in turn changes our point of view on him.

The theme of good vs evil is evident throughout the film. But as the plot unfolds those lines begin to blur at least from the good side – Somerset and Mills. That’s the true test David Mills goes through. He lets John Doe control his thoughts and emotions resulting in the final moments of their encounter. That’s exactly what John Doe wants – to disrupt the status quo and bring out the worst in the best.

This film focuses more on the outcome of the murders than the actual act itself leaving us to imagine how these cruel acts were committed. That’s the brilliance of David Fincher. He sets up everything perfectly in his shots of the crime scenes and lets our imagination run wild. It’s pretty hard to believe no one smelled the decaying body of the Sloth murder until the magical sheet is lifted off the body. Those air fresheners couldn’t mask that smell no matter how many are hung from the ceiling.

Overall, Se7en is a dark, disturbing, creepy, chilling & yet a wildly entertaining thriller that makes the audience feel like they need a shower after viewing from how dirty the environment feels. Se7en has outstanding lead performances and has one of the most recognizable villains in film history. Given the weight and gravity of the films theme’s, it’s not a tough watch. Fincher has a way of grasping his audience’s attention and doesn’t let go no matter how gruesome a scene is. If I were to rate Se7en, I’d rate it a 4.3 out of 5. Too much focus is on Mills and Somerset leaving the development for John Doe lacking.

So, tell me guys, have you seen Se7en and if so, what do you think about it? Do you agree or disagree with me? Comment below or send me an email and let me know what you think. 

Se7en is directed by David Fincher is Rated R and has a 82% on Rotten Tomatoes. Se7en was released on September 22, 1995 and has a runtime of 2 hours and 8 minutes. Se7en can be bought by online retailers such as iTunes, Google, Amazon and Vudu.

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