Movie Musings: ‘Seven’ the Movie and Psychopaths with a Manifesto


By Sreejith Kamalanayanan

After seeing Seven, the 1995 movie directed by David Fincher, my mind was with its main antagonist: ‘John Doe’. John Doe is a stone-cold killer who kills without conscience.

Seven is one of the most disturbing yet entertaining suspense thrillers ever made. And the moment John Doe enter the screen, it becomes even more disturbing because Doe is a killer with a manifesto.
The killer who recently shot to death 50 people at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand also had a manifesto. It can be called ‘misreading’ to connect these two killers but I think the two are related in two aspects, both had a manifesto.

The second reason may seem a bit far-fetched. But, I guess there is no harm in attempting.
The world is now talking about the way New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern handled the brutal terror attack at mosques in Christ Church that killed 50 people and left another 50 injured. What I find admirable about Jacinda is the way she stopped the terrorist from being the face of the tragedy.

Ardern visited the families of the victims wearing a headscarf emphasizing her empathy with people of Muslim identity. You should remember that Ardern did this at a time when attires of Muslim identity are widely attacked by authorities in the West.

However, the most brilliant decision made by Ardern was her determination to not name the killer. The terrorist, a white male, had a manifesto. It’s apparent that he did the mass shootings with an agenda. He even released the manifesto online and live-streamed the killings.

All this point to one thing: he wanted to announce his agenda to the world. He wanted people to read his manifesto, see the killings and agree or disagree with it. Of course, there would be some who agree with him.

He is not the first white supremacist terrorist who unleashed terror upon the world in a bid to upset the diversity of the world. He had predecessors and he is likely to garner followers too. But, what Jacinda Ardern did was the right thing to do. She let him remain a John Doe.

In movies, we have seen many terrorists and serial killers with a manifesto. However, I feel the Christ Church shooter comes close to the psycho-serial killer in David Fincher’s 1995 gloomy thriller ‘Seven’.

The movie’s main antagonist is a nameless serial killer played by actor Kevin Spacey. In the movie, he is called as John Doe. John Doe is not a real name. It is a name used by the police when the actual name of a person is unknown or is being intentionally concealed.

The Seven movie villain has a depressing view of the world. He believes that ‘things have fallen apart.’ He is upset by the moral decay of the world. This forms the crux of his manifesto for killing people.
John Doe’s murders have a pattern, they are inspired by ‘Seven Deadly Sins’: Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Lust, Pride, Envy, and Wrath.

In both the cases–Christ Church and Seven movie —the killers had a manifesto. John Doe’s was based on moral codes and the Christ Church shooter’s was based on the ‘White Supremacy’ ideology.

In Seven, David Fincher wanted the killer to be unnamed. He’s just a John Doe. And in Christchurch, Jacinda Ardern pledged to not name the killer. She just wanted him to remain a John Doe.


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