The entire thriller genre is something of a bastard child of horror, having adopted its ability to handle suspense, tension, and excitement to play on the viewers’ emotions. Many thrillers have more than a token amount of horror. And that’s not just my justification for another horror-thriller, one that also caters to my love of crime and neo-noir.
Se7en does contain a serial killer, which is the driving force of its plot: said killer has set out to murder seven people, each corresponding to the seven deadly sins. Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman are the two detectives assigned to the case; Pitt’s the hot-headed new blood in the department, with a expectant young wife (Gwyneth Paltrow), while Freeman is playing the “older black cop closing on retirement” role that paid Danny Glover’s bills in the ’80s.
There’s a theme with serial killers to put eloquent actors in the role, to make the villain all the more surreal. It worked damn well for Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs, and it works even better for Kevin Spacey here: he’s just not the kind of guy you’d expect to see as a raving psycho. And, like Hopkins, his performance is one blending twisted perversions with high intellect. Not that Pitt or Freeman did a bad job, either; this is a film where the star power was correctly chosen and utilized to its full potential. Plenty of character development and a lot of added depth.
Also, this film has one of the best endings in the history of thriller films. I don’t want to spoil anything, because it is just that damn good.
Why is it scary?
The urban blight of this unidentified neo-noir city works in the thriller’s best interest: the grime and decay adds another degree to the suspense. This setting oozes tension; now, add in Freeman and Pitt investigating grisly murders in it. Add in a few more tense scenes as the investigation expands into Serialkillerville with its mysterious serial killer, and round it off with a shocking climax, and you have a fantastic movie. It wouldn’t be a proper thriller if it didn’t chill you to your bones.