David Fincher’s 1995 film Se7en is both a psychological thriller and a gruesome exposition of one man’s troubled mind and its quest to right the wrongs of the sins he finds in the world around him.
Based in a crime-riddled un-named American city, the film follows the attempts of retiring Detective Somerset (Morgan Freeman) and his replacement Mills (Brad Pitt) to capture the culprit behind the macabre deaths that re-enact the seven deadly sins.
The film is not for the squeamish; although most of the killings happen off-screen, it is the brief glimpses the audiences are served with that create the repugnant tone of the film whilst the relentlessness of the deaths means that there is little time to recover between each exposition.
Filled with shocks and twists, Se7en seems to make a conscious effort to constantly out-do itself. After tackling the first victim’s unsightly gluttony-themed death (where an overly-obese man sits slumped face-down in the spaghetti he has apparently been forced to eat), the film hurtles onwards toward the next victim. Interspersed throughout the horrific scenes is the awkward telling of the relationship held between Mills and Somerset. With the former eager to work and the latter hesitant to withdraw a struggle for power and trust ensues. Pitt and Freeman play their parts expertly while Gwyneth Paltrow, as Mills’s wife Tracy, adds a delicacy to a film that may otherwise have been too enamoured with shocking its audience.
The grisly content of the film is complemented by the intruding soundtrack and end titles that scroll down the screen rather than the favoured scrolling upward, all making for a more unsettling film experience. Se7en is both clever and reminiscent of the 2001 BBC drama Messiah. The pace of the film, the surprise entrance of the murderer (you may just recognise them) as well as the gripping ending all make for a thrilling watch.
Best line: An example of the above, Mills’ outburst regarding the favoured literature of the killer when he rants ‘Fuckin’ Dante… poetry-writing faggot! Piece of shit motherfucker!’
Best performance: The murderer himself provides a chilling performance.