Horror films often pertain to the supernatural, but what’s even more frightening is realism. David Fincher’s 1995 thriller “Se7en” provides a grounded tense race to catch a serial killer. Slow moving, gritty, and disturbingly plausible, it’s a great break from the sequel-ridden franchises filled with villains who won’t stay dead.
In an unusual pairing, seasoned Detective William Somerset (Morgan Freeman) teams with newcomer Det. David Mills (Brad Pitt). The two are polar opposites: Somerset is near retirement, and hardened by his years on the force, whereas Mills brings an upbeat enthusiasm. The partners investigate a string of grisly murders, which they discover are based on the seven deadly sins: greed, gluttony, pride, wrath, envy, sloth, and lust.
Several elements complete the terrifying portrait “Se7en” paints. Visually, there are graphic murders, but moreover sadistic and methodical killings. During their investigation, Mills and Somerset reveal that the killer, John Doe (Kevin Spacey), has been planning his attacks for over a year. There’s also the stark realism. Unlike pure evil entities like Michael Myers, Doe actually has justification for his crimes, albeit lunatic ravings, but he nonetheless attempts to rationalize his actions. Additionally, Doe doesn’t strike in dreams, has no distinguishing traits, and is relatively average, except for the whole psycho killer thing.
Rounding out the haunting genius of Fincher’s film is a disturbing, and completely unforeseen ending. No spoilers, but suffice it to say you’ll have to pick your jaw up off the floor. “Se7en” scares through mimicking the profiles of actual serial killers, rather than relying on paranormal villains. There’s a thought-provoking theme of manipulating religion to validate one’s own actions and beliefs, a relevant and adaptable topic. A thrilling scramble, “Se7en” is an unconventional horror flick with the biggest blow arriving just before the screen fades to black.