David Fincher's sophomore outing as a Hollywood director is a home run of horror that one needs to see to believe. From the moment the opening sequence begins, you know you're in for an experience that will not be easy on the eyes. He takes the serial killer genre to a whole different level in this tale of a man bent on teaching society the errors of its ways. SEVEN is an extremely violent and dark film, though not in the usual way. There are no gun battles or fist fights. What we encounter in this underworld of death is the aftermath of the killer's crimes, which, if you're wondering, is much, much worse. The story takes place in an unspecified major urban city where it rains all the time...or at least seems to. Pitt and Freeman play detectives on the trail of a nasty serial killer. They've never encountered victims murdered in such calculating and cruel ways.
What they quickly begin to realize is that the killer is committing his crimes in the order of the Seven Deadly Sins gluttony, sloth, lust, greed, pride, envy and anger. The heinousness of these atrocities is unimaginable and the audience is shown every inch of them. It is not easy to watch, though it is intigral to the plot. The brutality is beyond measure and our heroes know their man is no regular wacko. He's got a plan and more people are sure to die before they manage to catch up with him. Though before they can capture the killer, he surprises them by ending the chase on his own terms. He ultimately gets what he wants which makes for a rather ambiguous finale. One of the reasons this film is so frightening is because of the reason our madman has for his murders. Like most of Fincher's work, the message is compelling, thought-provoking and slightly unhinged.
Fincher is a masterful director. He truly knows how to capture the mood of his films through camera movement, art direction and lighting. He draws you along whether you want to go or not. In the case of this film, I fear many viewers will be peeking out from behind their hands, desperate not to see, but unable to stop themselves. Pitt and Freeman complement each other wonderfully as the detectives forced to find this killer. The pain and sorrow in both their eyes and demeanors is enough to break your heart. Paltrow has a small, yet vital role as Pitt's wife. She's good, but her acting isn't the most shocking thing about the role. The ending is way over-the-top, but so is the entire concept of the film. Some people found it surprising, but I'm not one of them. It was pretty obvious if you knew what to look for. As much as I "liked" SEVEN, I doubt if I will ever have the stomach to sit through it again. With that said, if you're up for it, it is one of most well-done, intelligent thrillers I have seen in a long, long time.