It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
"Seven," a dark, grisly, horrifying and intelligent thriller, may be too disturbing for many people, I imagine, although if you can bear to watch, it you will see filmmaking of a high order. It tells the story of two detectives - one ready to retire, the other at the start of his career - and their attempts to capture a perverted serial killer who is using the Seven Deadly Sins as his scenario.
As the movie opens, we meet Somerset (Morgan Freeman), a meticulous veteran cop who lives a lonely bachelor's life in what looks like a furnished room. Then he meets Mills (Brad Pitt), an impulsive young cop who actually asked to be transferred into Somerset's district. The two men investigate a particularly gruesome murder, in which a fat man was tied hand and feet and forced to eat himself to death.
His crime was the crime of Gluttony. Soon Somerset and Mills are investigating equally inventive murders involving Greed, Sloth, Lust and the other deadly sins. In each case, the murder method is appropriate, and disgusting (one victim is forced to cut off a pound of his own flesh; another is tied to a bed for a year; a third, too proud of her beauty, is disfigured and then offered the choice of a call for help or sleeping pills). Somerset concludes that the killer, "John Doe," is using his crimes to preach a sermon.
The look of "Seven" is crucial to its effect. This is a very dark film, the gloom often penetrated only by the flashlights of the detectives. Even when all the lights are turned on in the apartments of the victims, they cast only wan, hopeless pools of light.