My all-time favorite horror movie is "Seven".
Despite a wobbly performance by Brad Pitt that doesn't right itself until halfway through the film, Morgan Freeman's performance as a loss-wearied detective hits all the right dark notes. The cinematography and dialogue are stunningly bleak, the serial killer's actions are alien and otherworldly, and the story leaves no character untouched. Last of all, the killer is portrayed by one of the best actors in Hollywood. The change in his demeanor and appearance from his role in "Glengarry Glen Ross" is a shock.
Many horror movies I've seen ultimately become a little wonky around the edges as the director tries his or her admirable best to tailor the premise to the world we live in, and fails. Technical inaccuracies, silly exceptions to superstitions, other small plot holes: these can mar a horror movie and make it unworthy to mull over after viewing. Not so with this movie.
"Seven" is entirely possible, a fearful race run by two sharply contrasting men against an invisible enemy whose weapons are horror, urban camouflage, an unshakeable belief in his mission, and improvised instruments of torture.
While the field of forensics has advanced in the twelve years since "Seven"'s release, the elusiveness, mystery and motivation of the villain remain credible and relevant. A curiously neutral condemnation of daily events that would be deemed sins less than 50 years ago, the movie drives its points about modern vice home with a tire iron.
Alternating taut, subdued discussions of the crimes with blunt, terrifying minutes in the crime scenes, "Seven" is horrific and depraved in entirely realistic and possible ways. It even surpasses "Audition" in its grittiness, foregoing surreal sequences and compounding one man's madness for over two hours straight.