Study Guide

Seven Cunning & Cleverness

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Cunning & Cleverness

Fact: serial killer movies wouldn't be entertaining if the killer were an idiot. In all of these films, whether it's The Silence of the Lambs or The Bone Collector, the killer is ahead of the detectives every step of the way, allowing the audience to puzzle out the case right alongside the professionals.

John Doe in Seven is one of the cleverest onscreen killers. His plan has been percolating for a long time before the detectives discover it, and even then, they only discover it because he wants them to.

Questions About Cunning & Cleverness

  1. Do you think Doe could pull off this plan in real life? Are there any holes in his plan that you think the detectives should have caught or would have made his plan impossible?
  2. Did Doe always intend to make Mills and his wife victims at the end, or did he change his plan when he was discovered?
  3. Could Doe have gotten away with everything? Would he want to get away with his murders, or is getting caught part of the plan?
  4. Is John Doe clever, crazy, or both?

Chew on This

John Doe is a character who is too clever for his own good.

Most murders are crimes of passion, but serial killers plan. They seem detached from what they're doing. Doe turns himself in when his actions start to excite him, and emotion overtakes pure cunning.

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