Article by Neil D’Silva
Truth be told, Seven, also written as Se7en, is not one of those movies that anyone would like to watch a second time. But I braved it yesterday. Had another go at this wickedly intelligent movie that mocks at everything this world stands for right now. Here’s my impression of this movie.
The movie opens with a pretty disturbing shot – that of a horrendously obese man dead, with his face buried in a bowl of spaghetti. Detectives Somerset (Morgan Freeman), who is on his way out, and Mills (Brad Pitt), his replacement, are the investigators. It seems like the man overate himself to death at first, but then it is discovered that he was systematically tortured and force-fed with a gun to his head. That, and the word ‘Gluttony’ written in blood on the wall. Somerset knows at once that this is not a one-time thing.
And he’s right. Soon there are more bodies discovered, each of them tortured and murdered in the most gruesome ways imaginable. With each of them, there’s a word found at the crime scene too – a lawyer with the word ‘Greed’, a diseased man with the word ‘Sloth’, a prostitute with the word ‘Lust’, an actress with the word ‘Pride’. It does not take long for Somerset to figure out that there’s a serial killer out there, and he’s killing people according to the Seven Deadly Sins mentioned in the Christian Bible.
Going by this, there are two murders left, one for ‘Wrath’ and one for ‘Envy’. This is the only chance when the detectives will have to catch the demented killer before he completes his “masterpiece”.
It does happen too. But the way it does is something you can only watch and experience.
Brad Pitt will go down in history for being part of two of the most cult movies ever. One is this one, Seven, and the other is Fight Club. Both movies have this dark, brooding, anything-can-happen-the-next-moment quality and both leave a very real taste in the mouth long afterwards. Both feature demented sociopaths too, and are a comment on our societies.
For me, Seven stands out because it is one of those pattern movies that hold a special appeal. The murders follow a pattern. There’s an overarching plot besides the main one that holds everything together. And it puts a whole new – and very real – spin on what we learned in Catechism class as children. The Seven Deadly Sins – put it in this way, no one is likely to forget what they are.
The last two sins in this movie, ‘Wrath’ and ‘Envy’ come up in the most unexpected ways ever shown in cinema. Oh, there is a lot of foreshadowing. In retrospect, you realize it could not be any other way. And despite that huge twist in the end, I could easily watch the movie a second time with equal interest. Some movies are nothing without their final plot twists, but not this one. This is one of those where you see different things each time.
Watch a trailer of Seven here.
Why Does the Movie Affect Us so Much?
The movie is so hard-hitting because it is brutally honest. This is not just a buddy cop movie where they fool around and comically capture their criminals. It is gut-wrenchingly dark. John Doe, the unnamed criminal, says that it is a shame if this society calls disgustingly obese people, corrupt lawyers, prostitutes, and such other people as ‘innocent’. In his warped mind, he has a divine moral right to kill people who according to him are wrong. He feels he is doing God’s work. He feels entitled to murder these people because it is something he ought to do.
Isn’t that what our society is turning out to be? People taking up moralistic swords to create an individual Utopia that exists in their mind? That’s where the horror is – when everyone tries to create their own Utopia, what would the world be reduced to?
It is that aspect that disturbs me the most. Not the gory corpses shown in this movie. It disturbs me that we live in a world that is sick enough for some people to feel they have a right to correct it by ending it. Annihilation seems to be the answer for them. Yes, there are many John Does among us. They are only not coming out much because they are afraid of the consequences.
It is a very precarious slope we are on.
Reflections in My Work
I touched on this theme in my own way in Maya’s New Husband. Wasn’t Bhaskar Sadachari an individual who felt he had to tune society up in his way too? He was. That was the underlying aspect defining his character.
I am exploring this aspect on a much bigger canvas in the sequel Maya’s New Husband 2: The Birth of the Death. The book is taking me time to write because it requires a lot of courage to write
something like this. But what has to be told has to be told.
Find out more about Maya’s New Husband on its Goodreads page here.
And when we talk about ‘What’s in the box?’, the classic line from the movie, I am compelled to think of my own story What’s in Grandma’s Suitcase? This was an idea that was housed in my head for years, until I finally wrote it as a short story.
Read the complete story What’s in Grandma’s Suitcase? here.