There’s no denying that David Fincher’s seminal ’95 occult thriller Se7en had an impact on the film industry. It is regarded as the definitive David Fincher film. The bleak thriller embraces its grim and anti-Hollywood agenda with glee, with Fincher using every cinematic trick available to keep the audience glued to the precipice of their seats.

Se7en was the success David Fincher needed to begin his film career in earnest and it’s somewhat fitting that a director who self-identifies as cynical should lead with a movie that abhors human nature.

Se7en is arguably the best film that David Fincher has ever created. While his portfolio of excellent films is pretty wide, Se7en is his darkest and most chilling film, yet. The story about detectives Mills and Somerset, Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman, and their search for the psychotic murderer John Doe is a modern day classic. And the ending of David Fincher’s breakout film is one of the most shocking, disturbing, and iconic twists in modern cinema, capping a tight, wrought thriller.

Detective David Mills: “What’s in the box?”

The ending is one of cinemas greatest climaxes for one simple reason, the bad guy wins. It’s a mind fuck that stays with you. The – what’s in the fucking box – ending is probably why Se7en has stood the test of time and why Se7en has persevered for more than twenty years.

Having been one-step behind John Doe (Kevin Spacey) throughout the entire film, Detective David Mills (Brad Pitt) and Detective Lieutenant William Somerset (Morgan Freeman) catch a break when Doe promises to confess to the murders. But only after Somerset and Mills drive him out to a remote desert area.

Once there, a delivery van approaches. Somerset goes to the van leaving Mills to watch Doe, who then tantalizingly explains to the detective that earlier that day he visited his home and took the head of his pregnant wife, Tracy (Gwyneth Paltrow). Meanwhile, Somerset opens up the package from the delivery van and discovers Tracy’s decapitated dome inside. Mills snaps and shoots the serial killer dead, rounding off cinema’s gloomiest endings.

Where Somerset is calm, precise, and patient, Mills is on edge, unorthodox in his actions, and easily agitated. It might be easy to overlook or forget how good of an actor Pitt really is in this. Part of that also has to do with the larger than life persona that Pitt prominently displays today, but the man can act and Se7en might be his tour de force.