8mm promotional poster
|Directed by||Joel Schumacher|
|Produced by||Judy Hofflund
|Written by||Andrew Kevin Walker|
|Music by||Mychael Danna|
|Editing by||Mark Stevens|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Release date(s)||February 26, 1999|
|Running time||123 minutes|
|Followed by||8mm 2|
Private investigator and surveillance expert Tom Welles is contacted by Daniel Longdale, the attorney of wealthy widow Mrs. Christian, whose husband has recently died. While going through the contents of her husband's safe, she and Longdale find an 8 mm film depicting what appears to be the brutal murder of a teenage girl by a hulking man in a mask. Through the emotion shown it seems the film is real, but Mrs. Christian wants to know for certain.
After looking through missing persons files, Tom discovers the girl's name is Mary-Anne Mathews. He visits the girl's mother, Janet, and while searching the house finds Mary-Anne's diary, in which she explains that she ran away to Hollywood to become a film star. Before he leaves, he asks Mrs. Mathews which she would choose -- to go on thinking that Mary-Anne is living a happy life without knowing for sure, or to know the truth, even if the worst were true. Mrs. Mathews responds that she has to know what happened to her daughter.
Tom flies to Hollywood, where, with the help of an adult video shop's employee called Max California, he penetrates the underworld of illegal pornography, trying to discover who made the snuff film. Contact with a sleazy "talent scout" named Eddie Poole leads them to a shady movie director named Dino Velvet, whose violent pornographic films star a masked man known as "Machine."
Hoping to prove what he suspects, Tom pretends to be a client interested in commissioning an original, hardcore bondage film directed by Velvet and starring Machine. Velvet agrees and arranges a meeting at an abandoned warehouse in New York City.
At the meeting, however, Machine overpowers and disarms Tom, after which the widow's lawyer Longdale appears unexpectedly. Longdale explains that Mr. Christian had contracted him to procure the snuff film. Longdale also reveals that he had informed Velvet ahead of time that Tom might come looking for them.
Tom now realizes that the film was authentic, but his life is in grave danger. Velvet and Machine produce a bound and beaten Max California, whom they have abducted in order to force Tom to bring them the only existing copy of the film. Once he delivers it, they burn it and kill Max.
They are about to kill Tom as well when he shares information he learned from Mrs. Christian: that her husband had paid $1,000,000 for the film. Velvet, Poole, and Machine all apparently received considerably less, thus making them realize that Longdale kept most of the money for himself. In an ensuing fight, Velvet and Longdale are both killed, and while they are distracted Tom manages to wound Machine and escape.
Tom phones to inform Mrs. Christian that the film was real and that Longdale was involved. He says they must go to the police and Mrs. Christian agrees. But when he arrives at her estate, Tom is told by a servant that Mrs. Christian committed suicide after hearing the news. She left one envelope for the girl's family and one for Tom, his containing the rest of his payment and a note reading, "Try to forget us."
With the film destroyed and no remaining witnesses to its existence, Tom decides to seek justice on the murdered girl's behalf by killing the remaining people involved, saying, "There's no one left to finish this but me."
He tracks down Poole and takes him to the shooting location of the snuff film. He tries to kill Poole but cannot bring himself to do it. He then calls Mrs. Mathews and tells her the truth about what happened to her daughter, simultaneously asking for her permission to hurt the men responsible. He gets what he needs and immediately returns, pistol-whipping Poole to death and burning his body along with the pornography from Poole's car.
Tom next traces Machine by using hospital records and the knowledge that he wounded Machine during his escape from the warehouse. At the man's home, a violent fight ends with Machine being killed, but not before he is unmasked, revealing a rather unremarkable-looking, bald, bespectacled man called George who asks Tom, "What did you expect? A monster?"
Tom returns to his family. One day, he receives a letter from Mrs. Mathews. She thanks him for the money he sent and ends by saying, "I hated you for telling me the truth, but now I realize you and I are probably the only people that ever really cared about Mary-Anne."
Screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker's first draft was drastically different; in that version, entitled "Sexy World," Welles was a lonely efficiency expert who found human connection in his friendship with the proprietor of an isolated pornography store on the side of the highway. Walker later had a major fall out with director Schumacher concerning the film's dark content. Schumacher cut a significant portion of the film to avoid the depiction of pornographic content being displayed in the background in order to ensure that the film wouldn't receive an NC-17 rating.
The reviews aggregated at Rotten Tomatoes show that only 22% of the critics listed there have given the film a positive review. However, as of August 2009 IMDB have given the movie a 6.2/10 user rating. Film critic Roger Ebert gave the film three stars stating: "8mm 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".
8mm is a 1999 film about a private investigator who is hired to research the authenticity of an alleged snuff film found in the vault of a recently deceased billionaire, which takes him to some sleazy environments.