The Reel: ‘Seven,’ the greatest suspense thriller there ever was

Director David Fincher is a genius filmmaker, and ‘Seven’ is his masterpiece.


‘Seven’ is a 1995 crime-suspense thriller starring Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, Gwyneth Paltrow and Kevin Spacey. (Photo courtesy of New Line Cinema)

It’s difficult to create a thriller. To properly “thrill” an audience, film creators must structure a story that purposefully manipulates the attention of the watcher and keeps them in the dark while sheltering an underlying titillation, hidden in the shadows.

Meanwhile, the director must paint an intimate relationship between the characters, the plot, the environment and each other. Director David Fincher knows his cameras and editing, in addition to the identity of his own movie. Screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker knows his audience, masterful of his craft.

Since the film is fairly oblique in the grand scheme of Fincher’s amazing filmmaking track record, I’m going to assume that you, the reader, have not seen ‘Seven.’ However, you may have watched “Gone Girl” (2014), “The Social Network” (2008), “Fight Club” (1999) or “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (2011). These films all employ similar photographic identities, deceptive plot lines, brilliant character development and Fincher’s signature colorless color grade.

Without spoiling the movie, I would like to outline its greatest achievements, many of which modern crime dramas and thrillers today fail to achieve.

‘Seven’ features Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman as David Mills and William Somerset, two cops in a dark metropolis in which rain is always falling. They work together to capture a serial killer who’s murdering people, each of whom represents one of the seven deadly sins: greed, gluttony, pride, lust, wrath, envy and sloth.

Each investigative inspection is colored with a threatening, skin-crawling soundtrack by Atticus Ross and Trent Rozner. Each set design is detailed down to the book arrangements. Important characters are developed and trite character designs are fixated on a simple introduction. Each camera placement is purposefully illustrious of human relationship, competition or conflict. The film is dark, it’s powerful, it’s unsettling, it’s thought-provoking, heartbeat-provoking and even vomit-provoking at times.

The film is disturbingly graphic, brutally poetic, painfully suspenseful and filled with conveyances of human nature and principle. Some scenes are borderline horror, while others are thrilling, many are philosophical, and all of them tug relentlessly at the subconscious perversion that exists within our minds.

When I am superglued to the screen, nails between my teeth, motionless and heart racing, I know that the film thoroughly understands both itself and its audience. Fincher and Walker did an incredible job making ‘Seven,’ and I believe that it’s the greatest suspense thriller there ever was.

‘Seven’ is rated R and contains heavy amounts of violence, language and suggestive content.