Details At A Glance

Category Thriller Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Running Time 126 minutes Commentary Tracks None
RSDL/Flipper No/No Other Extras Cast Biographies (Morgan Freeman,
Brad Pitt)
Region 4   Featurette - "Seven"
Distributor Roadshow Home Entertainment    
RRP $34.95    

Pan & Scan/Full Frame Pan & Scan MPEG 2.0 
Widescreen Aspect Ratio N/A Dolby Digital 2.0 
16x9 Enhancement N/A Soundtrack Languages English
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 2.35:1    
Macrovision Yes    
Subtitles None    

Plot Synopsis

    Seven is a very disturbing thriller about a serial killer, killing people who are examples of the seven deadly sins - gluttony, greed, sloth, lust, pride, envy and wrath.

    The movie stars Morgan Freeman as Detective William Somerset and Brad Pitt as Detective David Mills. The story begins with Detective Mills being assigned to Detective Somerset. Detective Somerset is due to retire at the end of the week, and Detective Mills is moving up in the world, and is to take Somerset's place.

    We quickly move to the scene of the first murder, that of a grossly obese man, who we come to learn has died of a burst stomach as a result of forced gluttony. We then come to the scene of the second murder, that of a lawyer, who epitomises greed. A clue is planted at this murder scene for the detectives to find the third murder victim - a drug dealer who has apparently been bound and gagged for a year, a sacrifice to sloth.

    Along the way, we learn that Detective Mills' wife (played by Gwyneth Paltrow) is unhappy with their recent move to the city, and that she is pregnant. It is also made clear that the serial killer is a well-read man, and this nearly leads to his undoing, as Detective Somerset uses one of his sources to obtain information on a person reading the type of books that the serial killer is likely to have read. They arrive at the suspect's door, but he is not in. He arrives home, and a shoot-out ensues during which Detective Mills' life is spared by the killer.

    The next murders are that of a prostitute (lust) and of a woman who is forced to mutilate her face or die (pride).

    At this point, the serial killer (John Doe, played by Kevin Spacey) gives himself up to the police, but tells them that there are two bodies still to be found. If he is allowed to show Detective Somerset and Detective Mills to the bodies, he will sign a full confession. If he is not allowed to do this, he will plead insanity.

    The Detectives and John Doe drive out to the middle of nowhere, and a mysterious package arrives. This leads to the climax of the film, which I will not give away. Suffice it to say that you cannot pick the ending until it actually unfolds on screen.

    Interestingly, the end credits scroll upwards rather than downwards, something I have not seen before, and which certainly adds to the disturbing nature of this film.

Transfer Quality


    This is a reasonably good DVD transfer. It is presented in the pan & scan format. Not having seen the movie in its original aspect ratio, I cannot comment on how much we are missing out on because of the pan & scan transfer. However, there are certain scenes where it is clear that widescreen framing would have made more sense. As always, I would have preferred a widescreen 16:9 enhanced presentation.

    The sharpness of the DVD is excellent, with good shadow detail and no noise in the video signal. This is particularly important in this movie, since there are many very dark and gloomy scenes, and it is important to be able to resolve the shadow detail to fully understand what is going on.

    Colours are generally muted, and never oversaturated. They are generally well-rendered.

    No MPEG artefacts were seen. There are, however, a number of video artefacts in the transfer. There are a number of scenes with significant aliasing (shimmer). In particular, there is a scene showing the outside of the police station, which is a brick building - this has a very distracting shimmer about it. These artefacts also occur in shots of venetian blinds and in scenes involving strong horizontal lines panning up and down. There is one small section of the film with some vertical aliasing (20:18 to 20:20), and there is a significant video pause at 73:01. Presumably this is because a laserdisc master was used to create this DVD.


    There are two soundtracks encoded on this DVD - MPEG 2.0 and Dolby Digital 2.0. Both are surround encoded, giving a 4 channel matrix mix. The default audio format is MPEG 2.0, which means that you are greeted with stone cold silence through the digital input of your Dolby Digital processor unless it can also handle MPEG decoding until you change the soundtrack to the Dolby Digital track. I found that the level of the Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack was set very high, so high that I turned the overall level down 10dB to listen to this movie at my usual listening level.

    Dialogue was difficult to hear at times because it was sometimes muffled in quality. The musical score did not get in the way of the dialogue, and added significantly to the atmosphere of this movie.

    The surrounds were used reasonably effectively to add depth to the music and also to add occasional ambience, such as scenes involving rain and thunder. Being a matrix mix, the surround channel was monophonic.

    There is an enormous amount of low bass present at times in this soundtrack, particularly during the opening credits, and this will give your system a real workout during these times. It will certainly uncover any rattles anywhere in your listening room!


    There is a pleasing selection of extras on this disc, even though the menu is virtually illegible. There are text biographies of the two main actors in the movie - Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt. The theatrical trailer is also on the disc.

    Rounding off the extras is an approximately 6 minute long featurette entitled Seven. This consists of interviews with the actors (Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, Gwynth Paltrow) intermingled with clips from the movie.

    The only unfortunate aspect of the extras is the fact that they solely carry a monophonic MPEG audio track. For me this necessitated reverting back to using the analogue outputs of the DVD player to hear these tracks since I don't have an MPEG decoder.


    This is a very disturbing movie. It will keep you enthralled and glued to your seat for the entire 121 minutes. Indeed, I was staggered when I looked up the running time - I never recall once losing concentration or being bored with this movie, and it certainly did not feel like a two-hour long movie. This is a movie with an unexpected ending that is absolutely unpredictable and which is not at all a "Hollywood"-style ending.

    The video quality was generally very good, with a few minor glitches here and there, but nothing major. The movie would be better as a widescreen presentation.

    The audio is acceptable, and will certainly give the low end of your system a serious workout at times, though you will have to work hard at times to understand the dialogue.

    The extras are nothing special, but at least there is something extra there.

Ratings (out of 5)


Michael Demtschyna
20th September 1998

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-505, using S-Video output
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 4:3 mode, via the S-Video input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Amplification 2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
Speakers Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer