A high‑tension tower of achievement

Still of Brad Pitt and morgan Freeman in Seven (1995)
Still of Brad Pitt and morgan Freeman in Seven (1995)

‘Seven’ film review

By Benjamin Howard, Contributor

Seven’s 20th anniversary came just in time to meet October’s demand for thrills and chills. This thriller stars Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt as two detectives who must stop a serial killer’s rampage. The spice to the film is that the killer, played by Kevin Spacey, is a zealot—each of his victims has committed one of the seven deadly sins.

Before I go any further with the review, I want to stress that this is spoiler‑free. Also, for anyone who’s interested in the film, don’t Google it! Unfortunately, the most-talked-about scene contains a huge spoiler, and since it’s a thriller, you’re not supposed to know what happens next. Although Seven may sound like a generic thriller—a typical game of cat‑and‑mouse between detective and killer—it is exceptional, not so much in its premise but in its execution.

The film starts with a gripping title sequence, one of the best in any movie, with Nine Inch Nails playing in the background to help set the tone of gloom, fear, and noir. The unnamed city in Seven is like Gotham: the buildings and the people are dirty, it’s always raining, and crime is everywhere. Like many other elements of the film, colour is used sparingly to preserve its power. Darkness is prevalent throughout the movie, but not to the point of becoming a dull monochrome wash of greys and browns, as other movies do to create a cheap gritty feeling. Howard Shore’s ominous, suspenseful score is used only at key moments, as are close‑ups and the sight of blood. Minimalism is used to great effect in Seven, and it is a refreshing break from the excess of modern blockbusters.

However, Seven’s chilling emotional power is perhaps too much for some. I’ve heard some comments that the film is “too scary.” Well, here’s what I have to say to those critics: it’s a movie about a serial killer; it should be frightening.

Like any good thriller, Seven has many twists, turns, and reversals. The first time I saw it, I was glued to the screen. I’ve seen it once a year since then (four times), and upon each viewing I appreciate the film all the more. The story is tight and the scenes often accomplish many things at once. The framing of the shots is crisp, and the performances are memorable, especially from Spacey. The tone and theme of the film is solid and raw, and the climax is gut‑punching and unforgettable. Lovers of the macabre, rejoice! As for the squeamish, I dare them to watch it—I dare them to watch an excellent film.