- Morgan Freeman as Detective William Somerset
- Brad Pitt as Detective David Mills
- Gwyneth Paltrow as Tracy Mills
- Kevin Spacey as John Doe
A deeply unsettling psychological thriller that plumbs the depths of horror and depravity, Seven is a masterpiece of mounting tension and nerve jangling suspense right up to the shocking climax.
In a bleak, constantly rain-soaked city, William Somerset is a soon to be retiring detective who has seven days left on the job. Somerset has become disillusioned with the abject horror of the world around him and just wants to be done with it. For his last case he is partnered with young and slightly cocky David Mills, who has just moved to the city with his pretty wife Tracy. The two don’t exactly hit it off right away, as Mills is there as a replacement for Somerset and the actions of the two are very different. But gradually, the two reach a level of respect for the other. They are first called in to investigate the murder of an obese man who was force-fed spaghetti until he literally imploded. Then a second murder occurs, this time of a wealthy defense attorney, whose blood was drained to write the word greed next to his body. The cerebral and sharp Somerset deduces a link between the two murders; they are enactments of the Seven Deadly Sins. Gluttony and greed have been accomplished, so there are five left to commit. Somerset and Mills find themselves in a most twisted investigation as the killer is always one step ahead of them and appears to delight in tormenting the two. As more bodies drop and the twisted logic of the killer gains momentum, both men are not prepared for what will eventually greet them as each sin is revealed in petrifying detail.
David Fincher casts a tightly wound and creepy spell here, with all his directing skills on show. His command over the camera is an art form, conjuring up the horrifying events that transpire with a building of assured suspense. The atmosphere of sinister mystery Seven drips from every frame, revealing a world of decrepit morals and nastiness that holds on to you tightly and refuses to let go. A lot of this is down to the absolutely masterful cinematography of Darius Khondji. Through the colour scheme that is largely grey or brown, the nightmarish investigation of Mills and Somerset comes to horrible life. The city they inhabit is never given a name, but Hell Town would be a good one. It’s a city that is decaying in every sense of the word and through the cinematography, it becomes something dark and acrid. The visuals are just spectacular(check the jittery title sequence for a better understanding) at conjuring up a grotesque yet intriguing spectacle as each murder gets progressively more alarming and horrifying. It is hard to recall a film that got the feel of a setting quite like how Seven does it; you are literally placed in the squalor of this unnamed city and there is no escape. The screenplay is also a key element that holds everything together, giving us a creepy inside look at deducing the reasons behind such despicable acts of murder and staging of the sins. While Seven has grisly moments, it gets most of the impact from not showing the murders being committed. Instead we, like Somerset and Mills, glimpse the slayings after the event and it is our imagination of what transpired that gives everything a chilling meaning and core. And talking of surprises, Seven boasts a most chilling and horrifying ending that knows how to catch you off guard. Howard Shore’s eerie score of dark ambience and riveting menace plays out like the film with the shocks and discoveries perfectly matched by the music.
A perfectly cast group of actors give their very best to this unnerving movie. Morgan Freeman shines as the older detective on his way out, but assigned this haunting last case. With deep knowledge and a world-weary look at things, Freeman make a compelling character both engaging and owlish. Just as good is Brad Pitt as the new detective, whose hot-headed approach clashes with Freeman’s calm but later moves along with it. Pitt plays the role in a way that allows Mills to be idealistic but also hampered at times by his go for action approach to the investigation. The work of the actors combined is a strength of Seven, particularly the chemistry of them as they come to a sense of understanding about the other. Gwyneth Paltrow is a lone female presence in the film, portraying the sweet but frustrated wife of Mills. Paltrow is very good with what she is given, projecting warmth and sadness in good measure. And last but not least is Kevin Spacey as the killer, who reveals himself in the latter stages of the story. It is a credit to his abilities that he is only in the film for around half an hour at most and still makes a startling impact. He plays John Doe as a twisted man of significant intellect whose warped view of the world is a driving force in his bloodletting. Spacey unnerves you here, finding the right notes of reptile menace and creepy logic to keep you glued to the screen when he’s around.
An absorbing and disturbing film, Seven succeeds on almost every level in unnerving the audience and providing some very memorable jolts of terror that never leave you.