I saw Seven once, years ago. Watching this movie a second time brought me back to the good ole’ days of the 1990’s, when listening to Nine Inch Nails was a great way to shock Grandma at the Thanksgiving dinner table. On a related note, the man who directed Seven also directed music videos by Foreigner, The Hooters and Loverboy (among others). I am not making fun of the director, because I adore two of those three bands and he does a great job with the visuals of Seven. I didn’t much like the source material, but that’s not his fault.
I was struck by how gritty Seven was. See all that grit? There’s a scene in National Lampoon’s Vacation, my favorite movie on earth, where Clark Griswold says – see all that plight, kids? The characters in Vacation are about a hundred times more realistic than the characters in Seven, who talk like they’re reading dialogue written by a guy who’s spent a lot of time immersing himself in – you guessed it – grit. If I could’ve gotten away with watching this movie with the sound off, I would have, but I’m a wimp who just can’t take that much GRIT.
In Seven, it’s always raining and none of the lights work. Everything’s dirty and smelly. There are buckets of puke and human heads in boxes. People talk tough. Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt bicker! People call their co-workers assholes! Brad Pitt nuzzles Gwyneth Paltrow! And Kevin Spacey channels the Brilliant Serial Killer Trope, playing a brilliant serial killer obsessed with the Seven Deadly Sins.
I forgot how educational Seven is. There’s a Merchant of Venice reference – pound of flesh; a Paradise Lost reference – long is the way, and hard, that out of hell leads up to the light; and a Dante’s Inferno reference –Dante fucking piece of shit. One of the best parts of Seven is the scene where we learn that the FBI monitors certain library books. Whether or not this is true, the fact that this is how our heroes almost catch the killer is really clever and I liked it. The rest of this movie reminded me of a nihilistic Image comic book. The chase scene is Exhibit A – this scene looked great, but if they dropped a dime and called for back-up they could have gotten about a hundred cop cars to chase the one guy fleeing on foot.
Honestly, I am not sure why I disliked Seven so much. I think it’s because the Brilliant Serial Killer trope really pisses me off. Heath Ledger’s Joker is probably the best-known example of this wondrous trope. The Brilliant Serial Killer is beloved by everyone, just like Santa Claus and The Shmoo. He has some sort of half-assed philosophy that inevitably has to do with nihilism; he’s also smarter than everyone else, just like one of those villains in 70’s TV cop shows who robs a bank and then changes his clothes so that he looks like a priest, fooling everybody!
People with real mental illnesses don’t like the Brilliant Serial Killer, because he – let’s face it, the BSK is usually a he – is so fucking stupid. What can I say? It’s true. People with real mental illnesses don’t act anything like the Brilliant Serial Killer, who is more often than not a fucked up Mary Sue of the collective ID of the general public, who like their nihilism WELL-DONE. Yes, Seven is well-done, but as I’ve grown older I’ve come to despise the philosophy these types of movies espouse – life sucks and then you die and then you get hit by a truck, which drags your body cross-country where it’s eaten by wild dogs, etc., etc., etc.