'Se7en' is a classic, but disturbing
October 5, 2016
Some movies affect you in such a drastic way that you find yourself wanting to either avoid eating for a while or finding the need to watch cat videos until you fall asleep.
“Se7en” is a crime thriller directed by David Fincher, who has directed some recent films you’ve probably seen: “The Social Network” (2010), “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (2011) and “Gone Girl” (2014). However, he is probably best known for “Fight Club” (1999), which was a huge hit and was the film he worked on right after making “Se7en,” which came out in 1995.
The film stars Morgan Freeman, who plays a burnt out detective named Somerset, that is merely days away from retiring. Detective Mills, played by Brad Pitt, is brought into the police precinct to take over for Somerset. The detectives could not be more of polar opposites. Somerset is a veteran detective who has been working in the same city for years. He’s calm, collected, but wants nothing to do with the string of murders that are occurring during his last week of duty. Mills, however, is a younger detective who has experience, but is impatient, prone to anger and has no time to deal with Somerset’s intricate methods of detective work.
After the initial introductory scenes, we get a really jarring and unnerving title sequence that really sets the tone and even foreshadows a few things that happen later on. After this, we are thrown right into the first of a string of murders based on the seven deadly sins: gluttony, greed, sloth, envy, wrath, pride and lust. Each of the crime scenes becomes more disturbing, with each one having been carefully and patiently executed. You can tell right from the get go that this killer has an M.O., and it isn’t a pleasant one.
The plot is one that is, for the most part, straightforward. If you pay attention to small conversational cues, you will be able to essentially figure out what the ending is. For the most part, the murders happen sequentially, but luckily the film throws in a few different scenes that help break up the slow building, brooding nature of the film. That isn’t to say the plot isn’t a great one. It’s really the execution of it that is done so well, especially in regards to the latter three-quarters of the film, when things build to a dramatic and horrifying conclusion.
Tonally, this film is a bleak one, and it doesn't let up on being incredibly dark and heavy. The setting is almost always indoors, where it is claustrophobic, and when you are outdoors it is almost always raining, adding to the gloomy feeling this movie brings. The only true bright spot in this movie comes with the character Tracy, played by Gwyneth Paltrow, who is Det. Mills’ wife. The few scenes we get with her are much needed breaths of air, and after seeing some of the murder scenes, you’ll be gasping for it.
What this film does so well is play with our interest and obsession with crime, specifically psychopathic serial murderers. It gives us what we want to see: crimes that are creative, have a distinct motive, follow a skeletal narrative and lastly are impeccably gruesome. All the murders, or "sins" as they're referred to by the killer, affect you on a level that makes you feel on par with how you probably felt when you read about real world serial killers like Jeffrey Dahmer, Ed Gein or John Wayne Gacy. You're absolutely sickened by it, but you can’t help but be intrigued by how or why a person could do these things. But the last two murders just bring it too close to home, in a way that should make you feel both a sense of horror, as well as a deep sadness. And this by no means makes it a bad movie, just be ready for a downer.
All in all, “Se7en” is an older movie (21 years old at this point) that should be regarded as a classic, with acting talent that at the time was on the rise, but now is regarded as A-list and a director that has brought us quality work, and continues to do so today. It’s a film that, without a doubt, is worth recommending. However, you should be warned: You will see and experience things you’ll want to forget.
Wesley Sigsworth is a student at UW-River Falls.