#92: Se7en

Everything’s fucked.

Director: David Fincher
Year: 1995
Genre: Thriller

7 reasons to watch this film…

1. It’s a Mystery/Thriller. There’s nothing like a great detective story involving serial killers.

2. It’s directed by David Fincher. Se7en is the first and best example of Fincher’s slick, gritty directorial style, if we ignore his debut effort, Alien 3. Most people prefer Fight Club, but I think, like many other films released in 1999, whilst it is a great film, it has dated. When Fight Club first came out in 1999, I would have said that it is the superior film to Se7en. However, when I watched it again 8 years later, I found that Jack’s “profound” narration came across as annoying and wanky, and Fincher’s CGI transitions had become rather tacky.
Se7en, on the other hand, an older film released in 1995, is not dated. In this one, Fincher did not rely as much on trippy transitions and CGI to express his directorial artistry – probably due to the more straight forward narrative and the fact that this was only his 2nd feature film.

3. The screenplay, written by Andrew Kevin Walker, is masterful. The plot is cleverly woven together in the most realistic way possible, especially considering its high concept. A film about a killer who kills 7 people, each one resembling one of the 7 deadly sins, could have easily turned into a cheap, gimmick-thriller like the Saw sequels (2004-2010), but Walker’s script uses naturalistic dialogue and focuses enough on tedious police procedures to be taken seriously.

4. The Opening Credits. Se7en boasts one of the best opening title sequences in cinema history, up there with Superman (1978), Vertigo (1958), and Watchmen (2009). Constructed by this generation’s Saul Bass, Kyle Cooper, Se7en‘s title sequence is made up of original footage specifically shot for the sequence. The sequence takes us into the mind of the serial killer by presenting us with close ups of his hands preparing various messages for his crime scenes. The actual credit titles were etched into the film itself by Cooper, providing an iconic gritty font and effect that will not age due to it being organic as opposed to computer generated. This sequence also marks the beginning of Fincher’s love affair with Trent Reznor as the accompanying music is none other than Nine Inch Nails’ ‘Closer’. Some may think that there is nothing more dated than the 90’s industrial aesthetic, and I would agree most of the time, but when Fincher and Reznor work together, it’s magic.

5. The cast. Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman are equally compelling as the typical detective duo of the young ambitious rookie (Detective David Mills) and the wise old veteran awaiting retirement (Detective Lt. William Somerset). Pitt has always been a great actor, but as most of his films over the last decade have been either quirky or arthouse, it is often difficult to relate to his characters. Se7en gives us Pitt in perhaps his most three-dimensional, sympathetic, human role. A true landmark in his career and a must-see for any of his fans. Se7en also presents us with Morgan Freeman in his last great role before he went on to play various caricatures of himself. Whilst Freeman playing a wise old detective is a cliche in itself, Detective Somerset is a true, flawed and relatable human being, and not some “Magical Negro”, eg. The Shawshank Redemption (1994), Unforgiven (1992). The killer, John Doe, gives a truly unforgettable performance. If you have not seen the film, I hope you have not had the casting choice of the villain ruined for you. To reveal his identity now would would be a sin.

6. Gruesome! For those gore hounds out there, there are plenty of fucked up corpses and inventive murders – ‘7 different ways to showcase a corpse’. We only ever, really, see the aftermath of the murders, but it adds to the mystery and probably creates even more disturbing images in your mind as you visualise how the bodies ended up in the state they are in.



2 thoughts on “#92: Se7en

  1. Great review, and spot on reasons to watch the film to boot. I particularly liked your look at the opening sequence – I hadn’t really thought about it before but I’m now eager to take another look.

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