Essays · Movies

31 Days of Horror: Seven

A rain drenched city of sin sets the stage for a serial killer with a message and the two cops tasked with stopping him.
By  · Published on October 21st, 2008

Seven (1995)

Synopsis: A rain drenched city of sin sets the stage for a serial killer with a message and the two cops tasked with stopping him. The killer, nicknamed John Doe, fashions his murder set pieces after the seven deadly sins, and while his motives may be predictable his methods aren’t. Detective Mills is fresh-faced and eager and Detective Somerset is the grizzled veteran counting the hours until retirement, and together they may be the only ones capable of stopping John Doe’s ultimate denouement.

Killer Scene: So many beautiful and stunning scenes in this film from a hotel foot chase that spills out into the rain drenched streets, to the discovery of an obese victim bound and stuffed with tainted pasta, to the ‘Sloth’ victim strapped to a bed for a year and presumed dead only to scare the shit out of a roomful of seasoned police officers, but the truly killer scene in Seven is the one at the end. Daylight shines down for the first time in the film… John Doe’s mysterious plan seems to be coming to fruition… the two detectives frantically try to stay one mental step ahead of the killer… and a delivery van speeds towards them as John Doe smiles…


Violence: Most of the violence in Seven occurs off-screen leaving the audience to witness the bloody, contorted, and disturbing aftermath. There is one nice shootout that becomes a chase and results in a beat down. And there may be some crimson mist visible from a burst of gunfire towards the end.

Sex: Much like the violence above, we only see the aftermath of sex in Seven (and also like the violence the resulting mess is bloody, whimpering, and rarely pretty.)

Scares: The entire film has a dark and creepy tone to it, but the biggest actual scare comes with the discovery of the ‘Sloth’ victim. He looks dead, he apparently smells dead, and everyone in the room believes he’s dead… but he’s not dead. (Yet.)

Final Thoughts: David Fincher’s Seven is not typically considered a horror film, but it more than qualifies. It’s permeated with dread, several scenes keep the viewer on edge, and there are multiple horrific images and scenes that will stick in your mind for quite some time. This includes the panic and terror pouring out of Leland Orser as the massage parlor customer forced to kill the hooker, the dank and foul den of the ‘Gluttony’ victim, the stylized tableau of ‘Pride’, and many more. John Doe is truly a monster, albeit an intelligent human one on a mission from god, which actually makes him that much scarier. And the ending… the fear you feel for one of the main characters is immense.

Should Seven be considered as a horror film? (You’re wrong if you say ‘No’ but I’d be curious as to your reasoning.)

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.