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November 30, 2013

Midnight Movie of the Week #204 - Se7en

"If we catch John Doe and he turns out to be the devil, I mean if he's Satan himself, that might live up to our expectations, but he's not the devil. He's just a man."
(1995) 
Starring: Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kevin Spacey.
Directed by David Fincher.
Rated R for some seriously sick stuff, including creepy fat corpse, nearly dead dude with no tongue, knife rape, and Brad Pitt saying the F word a lot.

Seven in Six Words:
Serial killer makes world seem doomed.
Why You'll Love It:
Less than twenty years after its release, Seven (I can only type that number in place of the V so many times before I go crazy) is one of the more well known serial killer films ever made. It spawned a sea of imitators, in both plot and style, but none of them matched the bleak outlook of Fincher's film or its vivid message about society's evils. Most impressive to me is how the director turns an unnamed metropolis (it feels like New York, but the script intentionally avoids labeling it as such) into a kind of purgatory, with Freeman's character often summing up the despair that lives in this place perfectly. 

The Highlights:
  • It's probably not too soon to reveal the plot's surprises, but for the sake of anyone who might not have seen it I'll tread lightly. But it's safe to say that the reveal of the killer and the final step in his plan is what gives this film its initial power over the viewer.
  • After the film's been seen and the surprise has been revealed, the film takes on added meaning upon repeat viewings. References to literature about hell and the deadly sins that provide the killer's gimmick are obvious clues to the filmmaker's intentions, and for me they've seemed to improve with age.
  • Pitt was dismissed by many as the average "hot" young star around the time of release, but his performance here deserves more praise than it has received. There are moments where he's in tune with his Oscar nominated performance from 12 Monkeys during the same year, and his character's chaotic mindset is perfect opposite those who accept the fate that surrounds them in this bleak setting. 
Also Worth Knowing:
  • Pitt only got the part in the film after Denzel Washington turned the role down, saying the film was "dark and evil." He regretted his decision after he saw the film, which may be why he starred in Seven imitator Fallen shortly after.
  • As noted earlier, the location of the film is intentionally not revealed. Screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker has noted that he was inspired by his time in New York City, but did not want to saddle the film with any specific location that would mute the setting's power.
  • Dreamers, take note: Walker was relatively unknown at the time of production and had written his script while working at a Tower Records store.
Seven is for fans of...
A-list stars doing dark things, serial killer mind games on film, surprise cameos, religious allegories, Morgan Freeman's soothing vocal patterns, and rain.

If You Like This, You Might Also Like...
Theatre of Blood (1973)
Taxi Driver (1976)
Copycat (1995)
Primal Fear (1996)
Arlington Road (1999)
Mr. Brooks (2007)

3 comments:

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Would you believe I haven't seen this one yet?! Thanks for treading lightly with respect to spoilers. =)

And have I mentioned how much I like the new post format? The old way was great, and I kind of miss your reviewing voice, but there's something fun and friendly about the new direction, too.

Jennifurla said...

I LOVE this movie, I agree that Brad Pitt was great too.

: said...

Great article, on one of my all-time favorite movies! IMO this is just about the perfect thriller.


J.N.
www.james-newman.com