Friday, September 22, 1995, 12:00 AM
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SEVEN. Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, Gwyneth Paltrow. Directed by David Fincher. At area theaters. Running time: 107 mins. Rated R. 1 STAR SEVEN IS AN UNLUCKY number for Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman, who star in the gimmicky thriller of the same name that opens today at theaters uncomfortably close to you. It's a low-rent "The Silence of the Lambs," in which two mismatched detectives (Pitt and Freeman) try to second-guess a dedicated serial killer. The title refers to the seven deadly sins gluttony, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy and wrath. Of these, the film makers are guilty of greed and sloth, and audiences likely will suffer from wrath. Freeman plays Lt. William Somerset, a wise, meticulous burnout case who prefers to connect the dots mentally. Pitt, in one of his least effective performances (and the film is so dark he doesn't even look cute), plays Detective David Mills, the whippersnapper who would rather burst through the door first and ask questions later. Gwyneth Paltrow is stuck in a dead-end role as Pitt's trembly wife, who hates her new life in a New York City where it never stops raining. The killer appears to be going after random victims who display the seven deadly traits. After each elaborate kill, he writes the name of the sin in blood. The gluttony victim is found tied naked to a chair, his head immersed in a bowl of spaghetti. He was forced to eat himself to death. I suppose there are worse ways to go a plate of halvah? but then we are treated to a variety of autopsy slab shots and closeups of distended body parts. And we've still got six victims to go. First-time screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker eschewed constructing a real story with characters we care about in favor of shock value. There's none of the humor that takes the sting out of slasher movies, and certainly none of the psychology and depth that made "The Silence of the Lambs" such an intellectual thriller. David Fincher, who killed off the joy in the "Alien" series by directing the third installment, was probably chosen to helm this because it is yet another movie that shows disdain for its characters. "Seven" cares so little about the victims that, for the most part, we don't even hear their names. Is exploitation a sin? And if so, are we in for a sequel? (R: excessive gore.)

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