If you’re a fan of the gritty, dark, and intense storytelling of David Fincher’s Se7en, then you’re likely on the hunt for movies like Se7en that can deliver the same chilling experience. Se7en set the bar high for psychological thrillers, with its haunting atmosphere and a twist that left audiences reeling. But fear not, there are plenty of films that channel a similar vibe, offering twists, suspense, and a deep dive into the darker side of humanity. Here are a few you should definitely add to your watch list.
Movies Similar to Se7en
1. Zodiac (2007)
Zodiac follows the true story of the infamous unsolved Zodiac killer case in San Francisco during the late 1960s and 1970s. Like Se7en, this movie delves deep into the psyche of a serial killer, while a determined cartoonist, a reporter, and a pair of detectives become obsessed with the case. Directed by David Fincher, Zodiac captures a similar meticulous attention to detail and a haunting quest for answers that’s bound to resonate with fans of Se7en.
- Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr., and Mark Ruffalo
- Directed by: David Fincher
- Fun Fact: The case files for the Zodiac killer were so extensive that it took the production team more than a year to compile and review them.
2. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
In The Silence of the Lambs, a young FBI trainee, Clarice Starling, is tasked with interviewing an imprisoned cannibalistic serial killer, Dr. Hannibal Lecter, to gain insights into catching another serial killer at large, Buffalo Bill. The psychological interplay between Starling and Lecter echoes the dark, cerebral nature of Se7en, and the film’s blend of horror and drama makes it a compelling watch for those who appreciate the complex character dynamics and suspense of Se7en.
- Stars: Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins
- Directed by: Jonathan Demme
- Fun Fact: Anthony Hopkins won an Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance, despite being on screen for only about 16 minutes.
3. Prisoners (2013)
Prisoners grips you with its tale of two families thrown into a nightmare when their daughters go missing. Hugh Jackman plays a desperate father who will stop at nothing to find his child, leading him down a morally ambiguous path. The film’s exploration of justice and morality, along with its intense performances, creates a tension-filled experience akin to Se7en. The atmospheric tension and complex narrative will appeal to anyone looking for movies like Se7en.
- Stars: Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Viola Davis
- Directed by: Denis Villeneuve
- Fun Fact: The movie was shot in Georgia, but it was set in Pennsylvania to reflect the director’s vision of a small American town.
4. Gone Girl (2014)
Another Fincher masterpiece, Gone Girl unravels the story of Nick Dunne and the mysterious disappearance of his wife, Amy. As the investigation unfolds, the layers of deceit and the dark underbelly of their marriage come to light. Similar to Se7en, Gone Girl offers a deep psychological thriller with twists and turns that keep you guessing. It’s a compelling narrative about the facades people build and what happens when they crumble.
- Stars: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, and Neil Patrick Harris
- Directed by: David Fincher
- Fun Fact: Rosamund Pike’s performance earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.
5. Nightcrawler (2014)
Nightcrawler is a thrilling dive into the morally ambiguous world of crime journalism in Los Angeles. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Lou Bloom, a driven man who blurs ethical lines to capture exclusive footage of violent events. This film, much like Se7en, explores the darker side of human nature and the consequences of unchecked ambition. Fans of Se7en will appreciate the intense character study and the film’s commentary on the media’s role in society.
- Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, and Riz Ahmed
- Directed by: Dan Gilroy
- Fun Fact: Jake Gyllenhaal lost around 20 pounds for his role to portray the hungry, coyote-like character of Lou Bloom.
6. Insomnia (2002)
Insomnia, directed by Christopher Nolan, is a psychological thriller that follows two Los Angeles homicide detectives investigating a murder in a small Alaskan town. As the midnight sun prevents one detective from sleeping, his investigation becomes increasingly blurred by his own guilt and exhaustion. The film’s psychological depth and the protagonist’s moral challenges will resonate with Se7en fans, as both films delve into the complexities of the human psyche.
- Stars: Al Pacino, Robin Williams, and Hilary Swank
- Directed by: Christopher Nolan
- Fun Fact: Insomnia is a remake of a 1997 Norwegian film of the same name.
7. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)
In The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, a journalist teams up with a hacker to solve a decades-old disappearance within a wealthy family, uncovering deeper and darker family secrets along the way. This film shares Se7en‘s affinity for a gripping mystery, complex characters, and a bleak atmosphere. It’s a compelling addition for those who appreciate the meticulous detail and dark themes present in Se7en.
- Stars: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, and Christopher Plummer
- Directed by: David Fincher
- Fun Fact: Rooney Mara underwent an extensive transformation for her role, including multiple piercings and a drastic haircut.
8. Mystic River (2003)
Mystic River tells the story of three childhood friends who are reunited by a tragic event that affects each of their lives. Directed by Clint Eastwood, the film delves into themes of loss, trauma, and the long-lasting impact of the past, much like Se7en. With its stellar performances and emotionally charged narrative, Mystic River is a must-watch for those interested in the complex dynamics of friendship and the haunting nature of unresolved grief.
- Stars: Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, and Kevin Bacon
- Directed by: Clint Eastwood
- Fun Fact: Sean Penn and Tim Robbins both won Academy Awards for their performances in this film.
9. No Country for Old Men (2007)
No Country for Old Men is a Coen Brothers’ adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s novel, which follows the violent chain of events triggered by a drug deal gone wrong and the discovery of two million dollars. The film’s relentless antagonist, Anton Chigurh, brings a chilling presence that rivals the menacing aura of Se7en‘s John Doe. Its stark portrayal of violence and the philosophical musings on fate and morality will appeal to Se7en aficionados.
- Stars: Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, and Josh Brolin
- Directed by: Joel and Ethan Coen
- Fun Fact: Javier Bardem’s portrayal of Anton Chigurh earned him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
10. Manhunter (1986)
Manhunter is the first film to feature the character Hannibal Lecter, and it’s a stylish thriller that delves into the mind of a serial killer, much like Se7en. This film follows a former FBI profiler who comes out of retirement to catch a new killer known as “The Tooth Fairy.” Its focus on forensic investigation and the psychological aspects of crime-solving will resonate with fans of Se7en looking for a similar blend of crime and intense character study.
- Stars: William Petersen, Kim Greist, and Brian Cox
- Directed by: Michael Mann
- Fun Fact: Manhunter is based on the novel “Red Dragon” by Thomas Harris, which was later adapted into another film under the same name in 2002.
11. Gone Baby Gone (2007)
Gone Baby Gone, directed by Ben Affleck, is a crime drama that follows two private detectives investigating the mysterious disappearance of a young girl in Boston. The film’s exploration of moral ambiguity and its gritty, realistic portrayal of a community in crisis will appeal to those who were captivated by the dark, ethical quandaries presented in Se7en.
- Stars: Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan, and Morgan Freeman
- Directed by: Ben Affleck
- Fun Fact: The movie is based on a novel of the same name by Dennis Lehane, who also wrote “Mystic River.”
12. The Bone Collector (1999)
In The Bone Collector, a quadriplegic ex-homicide detective and a young patrol officer team up to catch a serial killer who leaves clues tied to the grim history of New York City. The film’s cat-and-mouse chase and the puzzle-solving aspect of the investigation share similarities with Se7en‘s intricate plot and the cerebral nature of its crimes.
- Stars: Denzel Washington, Angelina Jolie, and Queen Latifah
- Directed by: Phillip Noyce
- Fun Fact: The film is based on the crime novel by Jeffery Deaver, which is the first in a series featuring the character Lincoln Rhyme.
13. Kiss the Girls (1997)
Kiss the Girls is a psychological thriller featuring Morgan Freeman as a forensic psychologist tracking down a serial kidnapper who refers to himself as “Casanova.” The movie, like Se7en, dives into the psychology of its antagonist and the desperation of the hunt, making it a compelling watch for those interested in the darker side of human nature and the intricacies of detective work.
- Stars: Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd, and Cary Elwes
- Directed by: Gary Fleder
- Fun Fact: Kiss the Girls is based on the second book in James Patterson’s series featuring the character Alex Cross.
14. Red Dragon (2002)
Red Dragon, another adaptation of Thomas Harris’s novel, gives us another chilling look at Hannibal Lecter, this time with Edward Norton as the FBI agent seeking his help to capture a brutal killer known as “The Tooth Fairy.” The film’s intense psychological tension and the complex relationship between the protagonist and Lecter make it a natural fit for fans of Se7en who appreciate a deep dive into the mind of a serial killer.
- Stars: Edward Norton, Anthony Hopkins, and Ralph Fiennes
- Directed by: Brett Ratner
- Fun Fact: This is the third movie featuring Hannibal Lecter but serves as a prequel to The Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal.
15. Copycat (1995)
Copycat is a psychological thriller that centers on an agoraphobic psychologist and a female detective who work together to track down a serial killer imitating famous murderers of the past. This film captures the essence of Se7en with its intense investigation into a killer’s mind and the psychological impact the case has on its main characters. Fans of Se7en will appreciate the cat-and-mouse game and the detailed profiling techniques used to catch the killer.
- Stars: Sigourney Weaver, Holly Hunter, and Dermot Mulroney
- Directed by: Jon Amiel
- Fun Fact: The character of Helen Hudson was based on the real-life criminal profiler Ann Wolbert Burgess, a pioneer in the study of serial killers.
16. Hannibal (2001)
Hannibal continues the story of Dr. Hannibal Lecter, this time on the run in Europe, with Clarice Starling back in the United States trying to draw him out. While it shifts more towards the horror genre, Hannibal shares with Se7en a fascination with the psyche of its brilliant yet monstrous villain. Audiences who enjoyed the dark, brooding atmosphere and complex character dynamics of Se7en will find similar themes in Hannibal.
- Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Julianne Moore, and Gary Oldman
- Directed by: Ridley Scott
- Fun Fact: The film is a sequel to The Silence of the Lambs and was based on the second novel in Thomas Harris’s series featuring Hannibal Lecter.
17. The Crimson Rivers (2000)
The Crimson Rivers is a French thriller that follows two detectives investigating a series of grisly murders at a remote university in the Alps. With its complex plot, stunning cinematography, and the intellectual depth of its investigation, the film evokes a similar sense of mystery and eeriness to Se7en. Fans will appreciate the intricate storyline and the atmospheric tension that drives the narrative.
- Stars: Jean Reno, Vincent Cassel, and Nadia Farès
- Directed by: Mathieu Kassovitz
- Fun Fact: The movie was so successful in France that it spawned a sequel, Crimson Rivers II: Angels of the Apocalypse, and a television series.
18. The Vanishing (1988)
The Vanishing (Spoorloos) is a Dutch-French film that tells the harrowing tale of a man’s three-year obsession to find out what happened to his girlfriend after she disappears without a trace. This psychological thriller is known for its intense and unsettling exploration of obsession, much like Se7en. The film’s chilling narrative and its focus on the dark capabilities of the human mind make it a compelling watch for those who appreciate the deep psychological layers in Se7en.
- Stars: Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu, Gene Bervoets, and Johanna ter Steege
- Directed by: George Sluizer
- Fun Fact: The film is based on the novel “The Golden Egg” by Tim Krabbé and was later remade in English by the same director, but with a different ending.
19. Saw (2004)
Saw is a horror thriller that revolves around two men who wake up in a decrepit bathroom, chained by their ankles to pipes, with a dead body between them. This film introduced audiences to the twisted mind of the Jigsaw killer, who, like Se7en‘s John Doe, creates elaborate scenarios to punish his victims. While more graphic, Saw shares with Se7en a penchant for intricate plotting and moralistic overtones, making it a gruesome but fascinating watch for fans of psychological thrillers.
- Stars: Cary Elwes, Leigh Whannell, and Danny Glover
- Directed by: James Wan
- Fun Fact: Saw was originally a short film that served as a pitch to get funding for the full-length feature.
20. Shutter Island (2010)
Shutter Island is a psychological thriller directed by Martin Scorsese that follows two U.S. Marshals investigating the disappearance of a patient from a hospital for the criminally insane located on a remote island. The film’s atmospheric tension, complex plot, and the protagonist’s grappling with his own sanity are reminiscent of the dark and twisty nature of Se7en. Fans of psychological complexity and unexpected endings will find Shutter Island particularly engaging.
- Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, and Ben Kingsley
- Directed by: Martin Scorsese
- Fun Fact: The film is based on a novel of the same name by Dennis Lehane, who also wrote the novel Mystic River.
21. Psycho (1960)
Psycho is Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece of suspense and horror that changed the thriller genre forever. The film’s infamous shower scene and the eerie Bates Motel have become iconic. Norman Bates, much like Se7en‘s John Doe, is a complex character whose actions are driven by deep psychological issues. Psycho is essential viewing for Se7en fans who are interested in the origins of the psychological thriller genre.
- Stars: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, and Vera Miles
- Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
- Fun Fact: Psycho was the first American film to show a toilet flushing on screen.
22. Cruising (1980)
Cruising, directed by William Friedkin, stars Al Pacino as a police detective going undercover in the New York City S&M scene to catch a serial killer targeting gay men. This gritty thriller, with its dark exploration of subcultures and the psychological toll of undercover work, shares thematic elements with Se7en‘s deep dive into the darker aspects of human nature.
- Stars: Al Pacino, Paul Sorvino, and Karen Allen
- Directed by: William Friedkin
- Fun Fact: The film’s release was met with controversy and protests from the gay community due to its depiction of the gay S&M scene.
23. The Voices (2014)
The Voices is a black comedy crime film featuring Ryan Reynolds as a seemingly well-meaning but disturbed factory worker who hallucinates that his pets are talking to him, leading him down a path of accidental murder. While more comedic and surreal than Se7en, The Voices offers a unique take on the mind of a killer and the struggle between good and evil within oneself.
- Stars: Ryan Reynolds, Gemma Arterton, and Anna Kendrick
- Directed by: Marjane Satrapi
- Fun Fact: Ryan Reynolds provides the voices for both his cat and dog in the film.
24. M (1931)
M is a classic German thriller directed by Fritz Lang that chronicles the hunt for a child murderer in Berlin. The film is groundbreaking for its time, utilizing sound in innovative ways to enhance the suspense. Like Se7en, M delves into the psyche of a killer and the societal response to his crimes, making it a pioneering work in the psychological thriller genre.
- Stars: Peter Lorre, Otto Wernicke, and Gustaf Gründgens
- Directed by: Fritz Lang
- Fun Fact: M is considered to be one of the first sound films to use a leitmotif, as whistling is used to signify the presence of the killer.
25. The Dead Pool (1988)
The Dead Pool is the fifth film in the “Dirty Harry” series, with Clint Eastwood reprising his role as Inspector Harry Callahan. In this installment, Callahan investigates a series of murders linked to a game where people bet on celebrity deaths. While it has more of an action-oriented approach than Se7en, The Dead Pool shares the theme of a detective on the trail of a serial killer, along with the gritty urban setting and moral ambiguity.
- Stars: Clint Eastwood, Patricia Clarkson, and Liam Neeson
- Directed by: Buddy Van Horn
- Fun Fact: The film features an early appearance by Jim Carrey, who performs a lip-synced version of “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns N’ Roses.
In your cinematic journey through the shadowy realms of crime and the human psyche, these films offer a variety of experiences that resonate with the same intensity and depth found in Se7en. Whether you’re drawn to the classic suspense of Psycho, the modern noir of Zodiac, or the unsettling realism of Prisoners, each of these movies like Se7en promises to deliver gripping narratives, complex characters, and the kind of chilling thrills that will leave you pondering long after the credits roll. So dim the lights, grab your popcorn, and prepare to dive into these masterful movies that stand shoulder to shoulder with the iconic film that inspired your search.