8mm is a 1999 thriller film directed by Joel Schumacher and written by Andrew Kevin Walker. The film stars Nicolas Cage as a private investigator who delves into the world of snuff films. Joaquin Phoenix, James Gandolfini, Peter Stormare, and Anthony Heald appear in supporting roles.
Original theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Joel Schumacher|
|Written by||Andrew Kevin Walker|
|Music by||Mychael Danna|
|Edited by||Mark Stevens|
|Distributed by||Sony Pictures Releasing|
|Box office||$96.6 million|
The film received negative reviews, but was a box office success. It was followed up by a sequel, 8mm 2, in 2005.
Private investigator Tom Welles is contacted by Daniel Longdale, attorney for wealthy widow Mrs. Christian, whose husband has recently died. While clearing out her late husband's safe, she and Longdale find an 8mm movie which appears to depict a real murder of a girl, but Mrs. Christian wants to know for certain. Welles is bound by obligation from both Longdale and Mrs. Christian not to reproduce the film in any way, and that only they need to know about the investigation.
After looking through missing persons files, Welles discovers the girl is Mary Ann Mathews and visits her mother, Janet Mathews, in North Carolina. While searching the house with her permission, he finds Mary Ann's diary, in which she says she went to Hollywood to become a film star. He asks Mrs. Mathews if she wants to know the truth, even if it is the worst. She says that she wants to know what happened to her daughter.
In Hollywood, with the help of an adult video store employee called Max California, Welles delves into the world of underground (and sometimes illegal) fetish pornography. He attempts to find out if snuff is indeed real, or if there was anyone in this underworld who was connected to this film. Contact with a sleazy talent scout named Eddie Poole leads them to director Dino Velvet, whose violent pornographic films star a masked man known as "Machine" who rapes and tortures women. To gain more evidence, Welles pretends to be a client interested in commissioning a hardcore BDSM film to be directed by Velvet and starring Machine. Velvet agrees and arranges a meeting in New York City.
The meeting turns out to be an ambush. Longdale and Poole appear and hold Welles at gunpoint. It's now clear that the film was real; Mr. Christian contacted Longdale to procure a snuff film, and being unable to find one, he commissioned Velvet and Poole to make one. Velvet and Machine produce a bound and beaten California, whom they abducted to force Welles to bring them the only surviving copy of the illegal film. Longdale and Welles go to Welles' car to retrieve the film, in which Longdale admits that he never thought Welles would get as far as he did, and just wanted to placate Mrs. Christian with the investigation. Once he delivers it, they burn it and kill California. As they are about to kill Welles, he tells them that Mr. Christian paid $1 million for the film. Velvet, Poole, and Machine received $50,000 and Longdale kept the major portion. In an ensuing fight, Velvet and Longdale are both killed; Welles wounds Machine and escapes.
Welles calls Mrs. Christian to tell her his discoveries and recommends going to the police, to which she agrees. Arriving at her estate, Welles is told that Mrs. Christian committed suicide after hearing the news. She left envelopes for the Mathews family and Welles: it contains the rest of his payment and a note reading; "Try to forget us". Welles warns his already frantic wife of the impending danger and to seek shelter in a location known only to them, and hands her his half of the money.
Welles decides to seek justice for the murdered girl by killing the remaining people involved. Welles returns to Hollywood and tracks down Poole. He takes him to the shooting location and tries to kill him, but he is hesitant. He calls Mrs. Mathews to tell her about her daughter and asks for her permission to punish those responsible. Mrs. Mathews breaks down in hysterics once presented with the truth, but affirms that she loved her daughter. With that, Welles returns and beats Poole to death with his pistol, burning his body and the pornography from his car. Welles discovers Machine's address in New York, and attacks him at his home. Welles unmasks him, revealing a bald, bespectacled man named George. He reveals to Welles that his sadism is not the result of childhood abuse; he kills people simply because he enjoys it. They struggle, and Welles kills him.
After returning to his family, Welles breaks down in front of his wife as he tries to process all of the evil that he had seen over the course of the investigation. Months later, Welles receives a letter from Mrs. Mathews, thanking him and suggesting he and she were the only ones to care about Mary Ann.
- Nicolas Cage as Tom Welles
- Joaquin Phoenix as Max California
- James Gandolfini as Eddie Poole
- Peter Stormare as Dino Velvet
- Anthony Heald as Daniel Longdale
- Myra Carter as Mrs. Christian
- Catherine Keener as Amy Welles
- Norman Reedus as Warren Anderson
- Amy Morton as Janet Mathews
- Torsten Voges as Stick
- Luis Saguar as Manny
- Chris Bauer as George Anthony Higgins / Machine
8mm opened in 2,730 theaters in North America and made $14,252,888 in its opening weekend with an average of $6,013 per theater ranking number 1 at the box office. The film made $36,663,315 domestically and $59,955,384 internationally for a total of $96,618,699, more than double its $40 million production budget.
The film received negative reviews from critics. It has a rating of 22% on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes based on 85 reviews with an average rating of 4.30/10. The consensus states that "its sadistic violence is unappealing and is lacking in suspense and mystery." The film also has a score of 19 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 20 reviews indicating "overwhelming dislike." Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade of "C-" on scale of A+ to F. Derek Elley of Variety criticized the film, stating that "8MM is a movie that keeps jumping the gate and finally unravels all over the floor." Peter Travers for Rolling Stone wrote that the film "aims for a psychological depth that the script can't sustain."
Roger Ebert was one of the film's admirers and gave the film three stars out of four, stating on his website "I know some audience members will be appalled by this film, as many were by Seven. It is a very hard R that would doubtless have been NC-17 if it had come from an indie instead of a big studio with clout. But it is a real film. Not a slick exploitation exercise with all the trappings of depravity but none of the consequences. Not a film where moral issues are forgotten in the excitement of an action climax. Yes, the hero is an ordinary man who finds himself able to handle violent situations, but that's not the movie's point. The last two words of the screenplay are "save me" and by the time they're said, we know what they mean."
- "The Projector" (1:20)
- "The House" (2:05)
- "The Call" (1:44)
- "The Film" (1:10)
- "Cindy" (0:56)
- "Missing Persons" (4:46)
- "What Would You Choose" (3:11)
- "Hollywood" (2:51)
- "Unsee" (1:20)
- "Dance With the Devil" (5:36)
- "The Third Man" (1:14)
- "Loft" (1:56)
- "No Answer" (1:47)
- "I Know All About..." (1:41)
- "366 Hoyt Ave." (1:46)
- "Scene of the Crime" (5:52)
- "Machine" (3:30)
- "Rainstorm" (3:49)
- "Home" (1:32)
- "Dear Mr. Wells" (1:54)
- "8MM (18)". British Board of Film Classification. March 16, 1999. Retrieved April 13, 2014.
- 8mm at Box Office Mojo
- Wells, Ron. "8MM (1999)". AllMovie. Retrieved January 26, 2021.
- 8mm at Rotten Tomatoes
- 8mm at Metacritic
- "Cinemascore". Archived from the original (Type "8mm" into the search bar.) on December 20, 2018.
- Elley, Derek (February 18, 1999). "8MM Review". Variety. Retrieved March 24, 2019.
- Travers, Peter (February 26, 1999). "8mm - Rolling Stone". Rolling Stone. Retrieved January 26, 2021.
- Ebert, Roger (February 26, 1999), "8mm Movie Review", RogerEbert.com, Ebert Digital LLC, retrieved December 8, 2016
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