Ben Sanderson, a Hollywood screenwriter who lost everything because of his alcoholism, arrives in Las Vegas to drink himself to death. There, he meets and forms an uneasy friendship and non-interference pact with prostitute Sera.
In order to foil an extortion plot, an FBI agent undergoes a facial transplant surgery and assumes the identity and physical appearance of a terrorist, but the plan turns from bad to worse when the same terrorist impersonates the FBI agent.
A small, seemingly innocuous plastic reel of film leads surveillance specialist Tom Welles down an increasingly dark and frightening path. With the help of the streetwise Max, Welles relentlessly follows a bizarre trail of evidence to determine the fate of a complete stranger. As his work turns into obsession, he drifts farther and farther away from his wife, family and simple life as a small-town private eye.Written by
An Voyeuristic Thriller About Human's Capacity For Evil
There is a lot to be said about skill. Joel Schumacher is responsible for Batman & Robin, one of the most horrendously made movies in the past 15 years. One could have said upon leaving the theater in 1997 that Joel Schumacher is one of the worst directors working today. Two years later, Schumacher creates something, albeit with commercial sensibilities, that succeeds on many levels. 8mm is a murky, scuzzy passage through the miserable, dystopian criminal world of snuff films, taken on by a private investigator who is dismayed and scarred by what he unearths. It probes the resources of violent exploitation films, but not as a violent exploitation film. It would more accurately turn your stomach than amuse. Andrew Kevin Walker, who wrote Seven, and again establishes a protagonist who confronts evil and nearly loses his sanity in an effort to understand its reasons. The answer comes almost at the end of the film, from its most vicious character, but his rationale wittingly refrains from going as deep as the psychological world of his deeds. Joel Schumacher has an attraction to sinister, perhaps Gothic environments, even if his previous films that follow that pattern aren't so great, like The Lost Boys. Here, with Mychael Danna's sorrowful score and the great Robert Elswit's guilty, peeping camera, he fashions an impression of apprehension even in the few scenes where the story takes solace in Cage's home life. One director would not be wrong to shock us with a comparison to the unsuspecting atmosphere of Cage's residential street or the opening airport shot, but Schumacher perceives the looming subterranean goings-on beneath the unsuspecting.
The intent of the story is to consider a rather everyday individual and provoke him into such a troubling conflict with pure evil that he himself is pushed to torture and murder. He lives an unexciting but mostly happy life with his wife Catherine Keener and their infant daughter. He went to a good school on an academic scholarship, however while his contemporaries went through the most conventional motions to become lawyers, doctors, bankers, he chose a line of work comprised of following, shadowing, investigating, staking out, watching. For the sake of a comfortable living, he accommodates an upper crust circle of socialites and politicians. Nevertheless, this case which he almost does not take is unique. He is sent for by the attorney of a rich widow whose husband has just died. Whilst rummaging through the inside of her husband's safe, she and the lawyer find an 8 mm film of what seems to be the vicious slaying of a teenage girl by a large masked man. Cage convinces himself that the film, while horrifying, is simulation, but the widow wants him to confirm this for sure.
8mm doesn't consider the story's dilemmas merely as opportunity for money-making set pieces like action scenes. When Cage has the chance to take revenge, he doesn't have the command of his motivation because he does not have the same capacity for murder that his prospective victims have, and he essentially calls a character wounded by this person and provokes her to talk him into it. That is a novel approach the protagonist's vengeful turning point, and it elicits subliminal moral uncertainty that the audience has to take in hand.
8mm is a conventional studio thriller, but it is a real movie. It is all content and the suitable approach to that content. It is about human's aptitude for malevolence, conjecturing just deep it can go and how little we care to know of it in ourselves.
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