To celebrate Seven’s 25th anniversary, we look back to the film that sparked director David Fincher’s career and still haunts audiences to this day.
Released on September 22, 1995, director David Fincher’s Seven is a captivating yet disturbing masterpiece that still haunts audiences to this day. Fincher, coming off of a disappointing directorial debut in Alien 3, became the director of Seven after Guillermo del Toro, who claimed that Seven was “too dark”, turned it down (Yes, the man who directed Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) thought Seven was “too dark”). Seven proved to be a magnificent career turnaround for Fincher. Since Seven‘s release, Fincher has directed numerous critically acclaimed films such as Fight Club (1999), Zodiac (2007), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), The Social Network (2010), The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011), and Gone Girl (2014). The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Social Network earned him two Academy Award nominations for Best Director.
Seven follows Detective William Somerset (Morgan Freeman) as he partners with Detective David Mills (Brad Pitt) to track down a serial killer – a mysterious man known only as “John Doe” – who commits horrific murders based off the Seven Deadly Sins. As Somerset and Mills slowly follow the trails to uncover the truth, they find themselves in a dangerous cat-and-mouse game with Doe, who always seems to be one step ahead. The constant tension, suspense, and uncertainty slowly culminate to arguably one of the most shocking endings ever put to film and one of my personal favorites. Seven will leave you both in shock and terror as unexpected and chilling discoveries emerge from every corner.
I remember my exact reaction when I first watched Seven. I was in my bed with my sheet tightly clenched in my hands during the entire runtime. The extreme violence and gore terrified me but in no way did I think the film relied on its violence and gore to make its impact. It is a fast-paced film full of details and nuances (unsurprisingly, it received the Academy Award nomination for Best Editing). Seven never tells its audiences the name of the city in which it takes place. It only refers to it as “this dark and terrible place”. The gloomy and gritty tone of the city, combined with the nonstopping sound of the siren, deeply unsettled me. The most terrifying is often the least obvious. For example, the body of the Lust victim is never shown but the implication of what occurred is so incredibly disturbing that it has never left my mind. What makes Seven more powerful than any other movies of its type is its great character developments and discussions on human nature. Somerset’s conversations with Mills about everything wrong with the city provide a deeper layer of humanity. This elevates Seven above other thrillers that rely solely on violence and little on character development.
For any fan of detective/crime films or TV shows, Seven is a must-watch. Fans of Fincher should also check out Seven to experience the film that sparked the career of one of the most influential filmmakers of our time. I’m convinced that everyone will have the same reaction as I did when they uncover “what’s in the box”. The film is currently available to rent from YouTube and Amazon Prime for $3.99.