Let he who is without sin try to survive
Director: David Fincher
Release Date: January 1996
Plot: Two detectives, a rookie and a veteran, hunt a serial killer who uses the seven deadly sins as his motives.
No one could ever accuse Se7en of being a simple film, with practically every aspect of the film feeling complex and murky, even down to the notebooks you see in the opening credits which the filmmakers painstakingly produced by hand, helping to engross you in the film and adding the disturbing feeling that flows throughout.
Centred around two extremely well written and fleshed out characters, detectives Mills (Pitt) and Somerset (Freeman), which although a little cliché, the old veteran cop days away from retirement and paired up with the younger partner keen for a change of pace in the unnamed city, but unlike with some films that have tried this formula for laughs or tension, in Se7en it works and not only because of how good both Pitt and Freeman were but also because of how well written both Somerset, the lonely, cynical older detective and Mills more idealistic and headstrong younger officer determined to rise up through the ranks.
This brings me to John Doe (Spacey), the serial killer who ranks up there on my list favourite antagonists of all time, never fully explained and left as somewhat of a mystery, he feels like the opposite side of the coin to Somerset, choosing to punish people for their sins, unlike Somerset who likes to see the good in them, with Mills sitting square in the middle.
Although not scared of showing gruesome and disturbing imagery, with various bodies and torture victims showing up throughout, the film never felt as though it strayed too far toward the torture-porn genre, with the shocking visuals helping to forward the plot and help you to understand just how smart and calculating Doe actually is, though I would argue that crime that sticks with you the most is one that you don’t see but hear about by one of the unwilling participants leaving it to the viewer’s imagination to fill in the blanks as to what happened, especially as you only ever see one person being killed throughout the film.
No stranger to controversial ending, Fincher doesn’t follow the route you would expect from a Hollywood production, what you get instead is a final sequence that ranks up there with some of the best and most jarring twists in cinema, one that upon re-watching the film you can see foreshadowed throughout, I wouldn’t be surprised if this film was one of the inspirations for Ari Aster when he was making Hereditary.