After the debacle and traumatic birth of Alien 3, it was 1995’s nihilistic Se7en that launched the career of former music video maker David Fincher and the film itself remains hugely influential. From the endless rain and dark interiors to the scratchy and almost tactile opening credits, the shadow of Se7en lies heavy across horror and thrillers in general produced since.
In celebration of the film’s 15th anniversary, this new DVD release includes a wealth of extras and a comic filling in a bit more backstory around the ‘gluttony’ murder from the film.
Despite its reputation for innovation, the core story of Seven is remarkably traditional. We have the usual mentor/young hothead police partners investigating the usual series of serial killings as they try to uncover who the murderer is. The difference for this thriller however, is the nature of the killings is the important aspect, rather than the identity of the killer themselves.
Morgan Freeman classes up the joint in his usual manner as the world-weary Detective Somerset. He is a man who has seen too much and has had his optimism for the world eroded by day after day of investigations into the dark side of humanity. Assigned to replace him is Brad Pitt’s Detective Mills.
The newly-married Mills (to Gwyneth Paltrow’s angelic Tracy) is full of youthful bravado. He wants to make a difference, choosing to be assigned to this crime-ridden (and unnamed) city. Where Somerset is beaten down but a secretly hopeful man of peace, Mills is fire and vigour, ready to confront crime – with force, if necessary.
Right on the verge of his retirement, Somerset finds himself assigned to a sequence of killings apparently addressing the seven deadly sins, namely gluttony, wrath, lust, sloth, avarice, envy and greed. As the bodies begin to mount up and the evidence remains naggingly sparse, Somerset is called back from the edge to assist Mills in trying to stop the murderer before he or she can claim their full seven victims.
The film showcases intricate production design, creating a world of shadows and dirt that you can almost smell. David Fincher shoots it in his usual style, while both Freeman and Pitt put in solid work. The most memorable aspects of Seven, however, are the nature of the killer, the unforgettable ending and the horrifically intricate killings themselves – undoubtedly a stage-setter for films such as Saw to follow.
On a DVD with many extras, the most intriguing one is a storyboarded look at the film’s original ending. A less-nihilistic variant of what was filmed, this ending is set up in many ways in the themes and dialogue of the film and would have perhaps been more dramatically satisfying. From the commentary, the decision to change seems to have been primarily Pitt’s, and it remains an odd decision.
Seven perhaps suffers slightly due to the cavalcade of rip-offs and imitators, but 15 years on it still stands as one of the great thrillers, if also one of the darkest.
- 4 x Audio Commentaries
- Deleted Scenes
- Production Designs
- Alternate Endings
- Promotional Material
- The Notebooks
- Mastering for the Home Theatre
Seven is available on R4 DVD from Roadshow Entertainment.