1001 Movies: Se7en

I find this movie to be one of the most profoundly disturbing horror films out there. And I’ve seen a lot of terrible images. From the opening credits, Se7en succeeds in creating an eerie, unnatural visual motif that continues to haunt the film even through otherwise benign scenes.

Pretty good poster...

I watched this movie a lot my first couple of years of college. It doesn’t seem like the type of experience you’d want to relive multiple times, but I think I wanted to conquer it. There is something about the mixture of Nine Inch Nails and fundamental christianity that literally gave me a stomach ache every time I finished the movie. I had nightmares about it. But I kept watching, trying to satiate the images.

...really bad poster.

No luck. And now I watched it again for the 1001 Movies Club and was just as disturbed. Though, these days I’ve seen a lot more and I’m more prepared for dealing with the emotional consequences of viewing. Yes, it’s a high budget, Brad Pitt/Morgan Freeman thriller. Because of that there is a level of artificiality that a movie like I Spit On Your Grave doesn’t have. But, it feels like director Fincher worked within the Hollywood system – rather than trying to rebel against it – to create a polished, expensive look that feels almost like the uncanny. Like we’ve been here before, but things weren’t quite like this. Is this New York? Is this some other city filled with nightmares? Have murders this calculated and horrific happened? Have I seen this on the news? Or is this all in my dreams/imagination?I have seen serial killers in films before, but none quite like this? Or have I?

On re-watching the film I was also very impressed with the back story an character relationships Fincher manages to cover in between the gruesome murders. So Se7en becomes a successful thriller, horror, and drama, rather than a meaningless series of terrible imagery (like the Cremaster films, for example). And I think it’s more deadly because of that mainstream approach. People see it thinking it’s as typical as everything else they see in theatres, and then are met with good filmmaking turned rotten.

Best opening credits since The X-Files.

Oh, and hey. Did you know this guy was in it?:

In case you don’t recognize him, here’s a more familiar picture:

It's this guy!

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Filed under 1001 Movies, Whitney

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