** Spoiler alerts a head… though if you haven’t already seen this after twenty years, shame on you. **
It was one of the most numbing thrillers of the mid-90’s… And if you didn’t immediately think of Se7en after reading that sentence, then you really missed out on something special!
After a fairly tried-and-true series of murder-somethings throughout the 80’s, Hollywood screenwriters really started toying with audiences by switching it up in the 90’s. Misery served as the decade opener – but it was really The Silence of the Lambs that announced things had gone to a whole new thrilling level – becoming one of the few thrillers to receive a wide array of Oscar’s, including Best Picture1.
By the time 1995’s Se7en rolled around, few thought that the thriller would turn out to be any good. Especially coming from by a first-time screenwriter and a director who had cut his teeth on music videos – and then had bombed in his “contribution” to the Aliens franchise. But the film wasn’t just good. It became a modern genre classic. And that, in no small part, came down to this very scene… a scene that Brad Pitt (among others) had to fight New Line Cinemas to keep in the film. In EW, Pitt was quoted as saying,
“With Se7en, I said, “I will do it on one condition – the head stays in the box. Put in the contract that the head stays in the box.” Actually, there was a second thing, too: “He’s got to shoot the killer in the end. He doesn’t do the ‘right’ thing, he does the thing of passion.” Those two things are in the contract. Cut to: Se7en has been put together, and they’ve tested it. They go, “You know, he would be much more heroic if he didn’t shoot John Doe – and it’s too unsettling with the head in the box. We think maybe if it was the dog’s head in the box…” “
And so today, in honour of it’s twentieth birthday – it is with great pleasure that I am sharing this excellent Video Essay by the CineFlix team – Se7en’s “Box Scene” – Art of the Scene: