I know you probably know all about Se7en, one of the best serial killer movies ever made but I still have to write about it. It’s one of those movies that made me fall in love with not just neo-noir but also serial killer movies. On the face of it, it uses the same old eighties recycled formula of two very different cops working together on a tough case. Even the religious theme is not that unusual although many movies copied it over the following years. And decades. However, two elements made this movie stand out. The dark atmosphere and visceral murder scenes.
They made Se7en feel like a living nightmare. A nightmare you cannot wake up from until you finish the movie. The willingness of the crew to push the limits when it comes to mainstream thrillers was the cherry on top. So, you get a top director, top writer, top cast, and a lot of money to make the movie look, sound, and feel believable. They all had a vision of what this movie was supposed to be. And they pushed for it. When studio execs didn’t like the ending, Brad Pitt threatened to leave the set if they alter it.
We first saw what David Fincher can do a couple of years earlier in Alien 3, an unjustly forgotten gem of a science fiction movie. Now, he was ready to show us his full potential working on Andrew Kevin Walker’s script (8MM, Sleepy Hollow). The religious theme gave this particular serial killer something that’s going to connect in one way or the other with a lot of the audience. It’s funny to think that out of all the famous serial killers, only one or two of them had any connections to religion. And I’m not counting that thing when after the murders you say that you’re working for god or something.
With a running time of two hours and deliberate pacing, Se7en is a journey anyone who likes thrillers must make. And if you like those cat-and-mouse game movies featuring detectives and serial killers, well, you know what to expect. Only the best. The movie wastes no time and we see our first dead body not two minutes in. This is a movie that grabs and commands your attention. Since it’s a bit older now, we also have a remastered version featuring superior image quality. I suggest you seek it out. Do not settle for anything than superior image quality because this is one of those visually impactful movies.
We will be following two detectives, The Master, and The Apprentice as they’re trying to catch a vicious serial killer. Detectives Somerset and Mills start this week just like any other not knowing that a dead body is already waiting for them. Posed and mutilated, it seems to have suffered at the hands of a religious killer. A killer taking their deadly sins very, very seriously.
When the word Monday appears on the screen there are a couple of things become apparent. Firstly, we will be confined to a relatively short police investigation. Secondly, we get not only a sense of structure but also escalation. And finally, the changing days resemble our weekly routine and therefore immerse us further into the story. And that’s just one little thing about this movie I noticed. There are so many little details that make Se7en the masterpiece that is that I want to leave most of them for you to discover. Like the fact that it’s always raining in the movie contributes greatly to that brooding atmosphere.
The kills themselves are just nasty and disturbing. Both visually and psychologically. They toy with human nature and our morality, including the last one. On top of it all, we have the killer whose motivations are rather ambiguous making them even more frightening. There won’t be graphic violence but there will be graphic scenes of dead and tortured people. This whole element reminds me of another disturbing masterpiece Martyrs. Of course, I’m not going to bore you with performances as you already know they’re top-notch.
Finally, if you’re looking for movies like Se7en, the first one you need to check out is Frailty. It also features a religious serial killer just like Resurrection and Horsemen. These last two are not masterpieces but still worth a watch. Just like Manhunter, an eighties classic with a similarly brooding atmosphere but without the visceral part. And in the end, I would like to add one without a serial killer but with that same brooding atmosphere, The Machinist.
Director: David Fincher
Writer: Andrew Kevin Walker
Cast: Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Gwyneth Paltrow, R. Lee Ermey, Hawthorne James, John C. McGinley
Fun Facts: All of John Doe’s books were real books, written for the film. They took two months to complete and cost $15,000. According to Somerset, two months is also the time it would take the police to read all the books.