HOLLYWOOD—When it comes to wanting a great psychological thriller, nothing compares to what I consider not only one of the best psychological thrillers made, but one of the greatest movies of all time. Any guesses people, let me just say in continuing our discussion on great flicks within the subgenres of horror, it is NOT “The Silence of the Lambs,” it is “Se7en.” I adore this movie, and I honestly cannot count how many times I’ve watched it on TV and in the DVD/Blu-Ray player. It’s one of those films that whenever it airs on TV I just have to stop and watch it; I feel like I learn something new each time.
This classic stars Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt, as detectives on the hunt for a serial killer who murders his victims based on the seven deadly sins. The film opens with a grim depiction of Detective William Somerset (Freeman) who is counting down the days to his retirement. He’s been beat on physically and mentally by the city of New York; and that city plays a vital role in the atmospheric setting of the movie. Some people fail to realize that the setting of a movie can impact the narrative in ways that one never expected. We’re talking about if this flick was set in the middle of nowhere Nebraska, it would not have the weight, the power as its setting in New York City.
As Somerset prepares to hang up his badge, he finds himself showing the ropes to rookie Detective David Mills (Pitt). Pitt is superb in the role; and I would without a doubt argue some of his finest acting during his early career. It’s nuanced, layered and charismatic. The conflict between Mills and Somerset is a driving force for the tension that is only amplified by our John Doe killer, played with perfection by Oscar-winner Kevin Spacey. While Spacey doesn’t really make his appearance until the final act of the film, his presence and the acting he delivers on the big screen in that short period of time is magnificent. You seriously peg him as a serial killer and constantly question what his end goal will be.
For those not in the know, the seven deadly sins are: Pride, Envy, Wrath, Lust, Greed, Gluttony and Sloth, and the film does not disappoint with showcasing each of those deadly sins in perhaps the most gruesome ways. You feel sorry for the victims, but at the same time not so much, which is a testament to stellar writing. I mean, can you feel sorry for a lawyer, who had no conscience about taking loads of money to keep criminals out on the street. I think not people.
“Se7en” has suspense that is not typical of most horror films, where you KNOW the outcome. With this film, you don’t know the outcome, but that is the fun of it; you WANT to know what is going to happen and as it unfolds it leaves you on the edge of your seat. I mean the final 20 minutes of this movie is riveting. Two detectives on the journey with a serial killer to locate the bodies of two more victims of his that he refuses to reveal unless the detectives play along with his little game. Mills is on the verge of exploding, while Somerset digs deeper to get into the head of this treacherous fiend.
I hate to spoil the ending, so I won’t, but that infamous line, “What’s in the box?” Sets the stage for a shocking conclusion that leads to some revelations that leaves both Detective Somerset and Detective Mills speechless; this movie has that ending that you want, but you kind of hate at the same time because it comes out of left field. It’s brutal to watch, but so edge of your seat tension the thought of taking your eyes off the screen will never happen. The one thing I want to point out about director David Fincher is that he is a genius at using the narrative to tell the story; he realizes sometimes the scariest thing is NOT SEEING how something transpires versus actually SEEING something transpire on the big screen.
If you’re not looking to be scared senseless this Halloween, but instead would like to watch a smart, clever and original psychological thriller that sticks with you years after you watch it, look no further than “Se7en.” Trust me this film will become part of your movie library after you watch it.