Seven (1995) and stylized as Se7en is a horror film, directed by David Fincher and written by Andrew Kevin Walker, about a pair of cops in the process of hunting down a serial killer who uses the seven deadly sins as his motives. Throughout the film, there are gruesome scenes involving pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth.
As you know from movies like The Exorcist, where a fire burned down the entire set, sometimes the scariest things happen behind the scenes. Here are the scariest parts of Se7en no one noticed because it all went down when the cameras were off.
Get ready for an analysis of Seven that is going make you want to rewatch the film over and over again.
Brad Pitt suffered from a gruesome injury in the middle of filming.
The entire film was shot in the rain in order to create a dark, grisly atmosphere. There’s one scene in particular where Mills is running after John Doe in the rain — but something went wrong on set.
Brad Pitt put his arm straight through a windshield. There were severed tendons, exposed bone, and buckets of blood. His injury was written into the script (which is why his arm appears in a cast for the rest of the film). However, the movie was shot out of sequence which means his cast is hidden in some earlier scenes.
If you re-watch, you might catch the office scene where his hand is limp in his pocket or a scene where his hand is clearly swollen because his cast is cutting off his circulation.
A scene was shot where Robert Kennedy was assassinated.
In 1968, Kennedy was assassinated in the Ambassador Hotel (depicted above). In 1995, one of the bungalows of the old Ambassador Hotel was used as a film set.
It acted as the ‘safe house’ where Somerset and Mills interview the widow of the murdered lawyer.
The man in the gluttony scene was covered in real, live cockroaches.
True to the name of the film, seven crates of cockroaches were released for the gluttony scene. Vaseline was used in order to make sure the bugs remained on set.
The actor starring in the scene, Bob Mack, had material stuffed into his ears and nose to prevent the cockroaches from crawling inside. However, they still ended up crawling into his underwear, making the scene almost as horrific to film as it was to watch.
The man in the greed scene was made immobile by blood.
Gene Borkan played the victim in the greed scene. While stripped down to his underwear, he was hog-tied and covered in two gallons of fake blood. This fake blood was so thick and sticky that his knees actually became stuck to the floor, making it difficult for him to move.
Easter Eggs, Hidden Meanings & Explainers
The books used in the title sequence took two months to create and cost $15,000. After introducing the two main characters, the film transitions into a title sequence. It shows several short clips of an unknown man making entries in his diary covered in photographs and book clippings. These books were created by designers Clive Piercy and John Sabel over the course of two months. Even though the man writing in these books is never named, viewers can assume it’s none other than the serial killer, John Doe.
The director, Kyle Cooper, admitted he didn’t want the killer to come out in the third act of the film like most horror movies. He wanted to introduce the villain earlier on, so he incorporated Doe into the opening sequence in a subtle way without showing his face.
The location of Seven is unspecified, although it bears a strong resemblance to New York City. Many viewers assume the film is set in New York City. However, the police badges used by the police don’t identify an exact setting. They simply say, “Metropolitan.”
Although there isn’t an exact location mentioned, the film was made in Los Angeles, California. There is a scene in a café where a poster advertises “New York pizza,” but the restaurant is actually located in Hollywood, California. Toward the end of the film, when the cops are driving Doe to the final bodies, they pass signs with LA street names.
However, Andew Kevin Walker, the writer of the film, spent time in New York while trying to make it as a screenwriter. Walker said: “I didn’t like my time in New York, but it’s true that if I hadn’t lived there, I probably wouldn’t have written Se7en.”
Kevin Spacey, who plays John Doe, insisted the producers remove his name from the opening credits. Although producers originally wanted Kevin Spacey to have top billing at the start of the movie, he convinced them to take his name out of the opening credits. He wanted the audience to be surprised when he turned out to be the killer. He also avoided the film’s marketing when it was released, skipping public appearances and interviews. To make up for his absence, he is listed twice in the closing credits.
Spacey’s character makes his first appearance as the photographer taking pictures at the sloth crime scene. When Mills slaps the camera out of the photographer’s hand, for a second, you can see that it is Spacey.
David Fincher hid subliminal messages in the film. According to IMDB, “At 7 minutes before the end of the film, smack in the middle of the most dramatic scene of the entire movie, a subliminal picture is shown for a fraction of a second. It is shown at 1. hour and 52 minutes and 53 seconds. Blink once with your eyes and you have missed it, but if you freeze frame around that particular time then you will see a woman’s face appear.”
Howard Shore, who scored the film, also scored The Silence of the Lambs (1991). One of the main reasons the soundtrack to Seven is so spooky is because Howard Shore had experience scoring films about serial killers. He worked on Silence of the Lambs, only four years earlier. One of the most recognizable songs included is a reworked version of Closer by Nine Inch Nails. Although it is missing from the official soundtrack album, it sets the tone for the film.
However, the dark, gritty atmosphere might also have to do with the fact it was raining in the background during most scenes. In fact, the only scenes without rain take place during the last day. Although it gives the film a darker tone, the constant rain had more to do with continuity. It rained on the first day of filming, but they kept rolling so they could complete everything before Brad Pitt had to leave for another film.
The eerie song in the lust scene was created specifically for the film. The song playing during the lust scene is aptly called Lust. It’s only 56 seconds long because it isn’t a preexisting song. It was created specifically to be used in the film. Ren Klyce and Steve Boeddeker, two sound designers, created it to fit the gruesome nature of the scene.
In it, the victim, a prostitute, is knifed to death by her client who is wearing a lethal strap-on device. Meanwhile, a gun is pointed at his head. Doe included them both in his plan because the man admitted he was paying for sex, even though he was married.
Unlike most of the other murders, the pride scene gives the victim a choice between disfigurement or death. The pride scene is slightly different than the rest of them, because Doe gives the woman a chance to choose her own fate. After cutting off her nose, he gives her the option to live as a permanently disfigured model or take her own life.
She chooses the sleeping pills, which means she refused to give up her vanity. She would rather die than live with a disfigured face. In a way, she proves she is guilty of pride the same way Mills ultimately proves he is guilty of wrath. They both have a choice in the end and they both give into their sins.
Although John Doe hates the seven deadly sins, he represents one himself: Envy. As referenced by the title of the film, Doe is obsessed with the seven deadly sins: Lust, which involves an intense desire for something. Gluttony, which involves excess eating or drinking. Greed, which involves excessive acquisitiveness. Sloth, which involves laziness. Wrath, which involves vengeful anger. Envy, which involves resentment of others. And pride, which involves having inordinate self-esteem.
John Doe himself represents envy, which is why he plans on Mills shooting him at the end of the film. Shortly before the ‘what’s in the box’ scene, he explains that he envies Mill’s normal life. He explains that is his sin, and like the rest of his victims, he believes he deserves to be punished for it.
Mills represents ‘wrath’ and it’s hinted at earlier in the film than you’d think. Toward the end of the film, only five of the seven deadly sins have been revealed. However, once Mills discovers Doe has murdered his wife, he becomes wrath. Somerset tries to convince him not to murder Doe, because that would be giving him exactly what he wants. But Mills takes the shot. He becomes wrath.This is actually hinted at earlier in the film when Mills apartment number is shown. He lives at 5A – and the fifth deadly sin is wrath.
Explained: the famous ‘What’s in the box?’ ending sequence almost didn’t make it into the film. Seven is famously known for a dramatic, heartbreaking scene where Brad Pitt yells, “What’s in the box?” This scene occurs toward the end of the film, when Doe leads the two cops to a mysterious box instead of the two dead bodies he promised to show them. When the box is opened, Mills discovers his wife’s severed head inside. Although the head is never explicitly shown on screen, it still caused some concern among studio executives.
Denzel Washington originally turned down the role of Mills because he believed it was too evil. Meanwhile, New Line executives were worried the ending was too dark. However, Brad Pitt refused to star in the film if the ending was changed. The producers agreed and kept the ending in the name of artistic integrity.
Are you ready to rewatch this classic again? As of this writing, there is no streaming service where you can watch the full movie online for free. Seven is not on Netflix either. Your best bet to watch it is Amazon. Avoid downloading torrents and support the creators behind this film.