Gaming

True Detective’s 29-Year-Old Horror Movie Connection Explains A Key Night Country Story

Summary

  • True Detective: Night Country incorporates nods to other science-fiction and horror works, deepening the show’s story and message.
  • The show’s connection to the movie Seven sheds light on the theme of religion and skepticism towards belief systems.
  • Both True Detective and Seven warn against dogma and religious extremism, but also leave room for hope and positivity in a corrupt world.


Warning: Contains SPOILERS for True Detective: Night Country

True Detective: Night Country features dozens of subtle and obvious nods to other works of science-fiction and horror, but one of the show’s most interesting connections helps to explain a key True Detective theme. Like other entries in the anthology, Night Country tells an original, gripping mystery story. However, just as previous installments took inspiration from various works spanning multiple genres, True Detective season 4 is a product of decades of cinematic and televisual tradition. Rather than making the show derivative, these various inspirations actually make the show’s story and message even deeper than they seem.

The extent of True Detective: Night Country‘s external influences is immediately clear. Not only does the show include many of the same plot points, tropes, and even characters as season 1, but it also takes inspiration from celebrated works and real events. For example, the show’s scientists-in-the-ice mystery is clearly analogous to John Carpenter’s classic The Thing, while both tangents of the main True Detective season 4 story are inspired by real-life cases like Dyatlov Pass. Beyond this, however, one of Night Country‘s best horror Easter eggs not only provides a great callback to an iconic movie, but also sheds light on one of the show’s central ideas.

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True Detective Episode 2 Has A Clear Seven Connection

After just two episodes, True Detective: Night Country has already featured some shocking moments. From the discovery of Annie’s tongue in the Tsalal Research Station to the reappearance of Rust Cohle’s father Travis as a ghost, the show is not averse to pushing boundaries. But perhaps the series’ best jump scare, when one of the frozen scientists begins suddenly screaming despite being presumed dead, owes its success to a much-loved horror-thriller from 1995 – David Fincher’s Seven.

Just as in True Detective, Seven features a scene where detectives Mills and Somerset find what they assume to be a corpse. They are then shocked when the desiccated remains suddenly burst back into life, proving that the man is not dead at all. Just like in True Detective, the victim is then rushed to hospital, where doctors race to save him and ensure that he can relay his experience to the police. Even without an underlying meaning, True Detective‘s imitation of this scene would be a great callback. However, because of Seven‘s wider message, the connection between the two projects also sheds light on one of True Detective‘s major stories.

Related

True Detective: Night Country Cast & Character Guide

Here’s the complete character and cast guide for HBO Max’s True Detective Season 4, starring Jodie Foster, Kali Reise, and Christopher Eccleston.

Jodie Foster as Liz Danvers and Kali Reis as Evangeline Navarro in True Detective Night Country with Matthew McConaughey as Rust Cohle staring at a spiral in True Detective season 1

Beyond the shared jump scare, there are other references that link True Detective season 4 to Seven. Details like the scribbled notebooks discovered by Danvers and Navarro and the creepy contents of Raymond Clark’s sinister motorhome are all evocative of David Fincher’s unique style and aesthetic from the 1995 hit. Tying True Detective season 4 to Seven in such a deliberate way evokes the earlier movie’s themes and viewpoint, specifically around religion.

As seen in season 1, True Detective has already touched on the potentially corruptive influence religion and spirituality can have. Likewise, Seven explores how fanatical belief can drive deeply disturbing behavior and provide a justification for otherwise indefensible acts. By evoking Seven in Night Country, True Detective is reinforcing the show’s perspective on religion. It’s a reminder that, whether it’s about Evangelicalism or Carcosa, True Detective is generally skeptical of any belief system that demands deference.

What True Detective (And Seven) Really Say About Religion

Police finding the spiral pattern in the True Detective Night Country

Contrary to how it may initially seem, neither Seven nor True Detective are entirely damning of religion as a concept. Rust’s revelation about the ongoing battle between light and dark at the end of season 1 hints at a benevolent side to spirituality, while Seven‘s bleak ending has the somewhat surprising effect of stirring Somerset out of his apathy, compelling him to fight for a brighter future. Both of these conclusions indicate that, even in a world full of religious corruption and horror, it’s still possible to find some positivity.

However, while there are some hopeful messages in both works, Seven and True Detective are ultimately warnings against dogma. Both John Doe and the Tuttles twist and mutate what could be a tool for salvation into something sinister and ugly – with Doe seeing himself as an avenging angel and the Tuttles using religious expression as an excuse for their own gratification. With its Seven Easter eggs and explicit references to the Tuttles, True Detective: Night Country is deliberately tapping into the same themes. By subtly connecting to the 1995 thriller, the show is once again framing itself as a caustic critique of religious extremism – just as it did in season 1.

True Detective

Release Date
January 12, 2014

Cast
Matthew McConaughey , Woody Harrelson , Colin Farrell , Rachel McAdams , Taylor Kitsch , Mahershala Ali , Carmen Ejogo , Michelle Monaghan , Michael Potts , Ray Fisher , Jodie Foster

Seasons
3

Showrunner
Nic Pizzolatto

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