review for Seven on AllMovie

Seven (1995)
by Lucia Bozzola review

With its old cop/young cop pair trailing a brilliant psycho, Seven (1995) could have been just another serial killer movie. Director David Fincher's prodigious visual talent for choreographing an atmosphere of grim tension and evocative, partially hidden horrors, however, made it a disturbing foray into human darkness. From the jittery, unsettling credits sequence on, Seven reveals just enough of the grisly murders signifying the Bible's deadly sins, and the extremity of killer John Doe's devotion to his project, to allude to unspeakable terrors without actually showing a lot of violence. Circumspect old-timer Morgan Freeman's dedication and tyro Brad Pitt's fury both mirror the telling responses of their characters, and reveal signs of how tenuous the line is between cop and killer. Enhancing the aura of universal, unfathomable mystery shrouding Seven's unnamed city, Darius Khondji's cinematography creates a neo-noir urban murk of permanently rain-swept streets and deep interior shadows wanly pierced by flashlights that allow Doe to literally hide in plain sight from the audience before he turns himself in. Though the film divided some critics over whether it was stylishly rote depravity or tour de force filmmaking, Seven became a surprise smash, redeeming Fincher after his ill-fated debut feature, Alien 3 (1992).