People’s willingness to rebrand themselves as monsters without remorse is an alarming, puzzling trend of modern society. It may be hard to find an explanation outside of human selfishness and narcissism, traits director David Fincher has made a career out of depicting and deconstructing. He’s conjured timelessly horrific hellscapes where serial killers blend right in with films like Se7en and Zodiac, and hit a more socially applicable nerve tearing down self-righteous white male privilege in 1999’s Fight Club. But his most haunting and refined work ties directly into the anxieties of this decade—that of social media and all the opportunities it provides to forge new identities. With The Social Network, Fincher showed a social outcast turn into a trailblazing tech celebrity while losing friends and being fueled by spite toward his ex-girlfriend. His under-appreciated follow-up The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo saw a more selfless social outcast seeking personal love and acceptance for the first time, only to have her hopes crushed and resume a life of indifference.
Gone Girl, the 2014 adaptation of a bestselling paperback thriller, feels like the inevitably demented amalgamation of questions Fincher proposed in Network and Tattoo. Are there new consequences to controversial or intimate information being immediately shared to the public? Can one convincingly build a new persona strictly from their online or media perceptions? In the third installment of what could reasonably be called Fincher’s “tech trilogy,” the answer to both is a resounding yes—one stained by blood and deceit.