SE7EN (David Fincher 1995) sees Fincher at his best. Set in a city covered in perpetual rainfall, two detectives hunt for a truly terrifying serial killer who uses the seven deadly sins as his methodology. Played by Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt, the partners stumble onto the first victim after a patrolman calls in the dead body, without labelling it as a murder: an obese man (Bob Mack) was force fed until he died. It is a grim scene, not for the use of violence or gore, but for disgust.
While the body of the man is not a pleasant sight, the most horrifying part of the murder is the man’s life before his death. He is described as a shut-in and a loner. He does not seem to have any immediate family since nobody came to check on him while he was held hostage or in the time since his death. He clearly lived a very isolated life and was chosen by John Doe (Kevin Spacey) purely because of his size. Doe later describes his victim as “disgusting”. The state of the victim’s house is shot to unnerve the audience. With no natural light, all we are shown is whatever the torches held by Somerset and Mills unveil: the insects scurrying over leftover food or the discarded plates and bowls of spaghetti that Doe forced down his victim.
Since the scene takes place right at the beginning of the film, it establishes much of what we need to know about what is to come. The killer is not afraid to kill someone in such a brutal and prolonged way. John Doe indulges in his own breed of gluttony, consuming people and enjoying his own killings, toying with the detectives as he does so. It is a different type of gluttony than in the traditional sense but he is still absorbing all of these experiences and killings because they satisfy him. Peeling back the layers of his ritualistic ways of murder, reveals a hypocrite.
Some of the victims in the killings once committed crimes or held a certain view of themselves so that John Doe marked them as guilty. But the only crime that the victim of the gluttony killing had committed was eating large amounts of food. His clearly was not a healthy lifestyle but is that comparable to a child molester or another of the later sins? Is it a warning to us all? Consume as much as you like and behold the wrath of a sadistic killer. Or perhaps it is a lesson: there is no way to infinitely consume something without eventually killing yourself, by rupturing your own stomach like in SE7EN, or otherwise.
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