Tom Welles (Nicolas Cage
) is hired by wealthy widow Mrs. Christian, who has discovered a reel of 8mm film in her late husband's safe that depicts what appears to be the brutal murder of a teenage girl by a hulking man in a mask. Mrs. Christian wants Welles to find out whether the incident in the film is real.
It was directed by Joel Schumacher
. A direct-to-video "sequel" called 8mm 2
. It has no connection whatsoever to the original
This film provides examples of:
- Amoral Attorney: Daniel Longdale arranged the creation of the Snuff Film for his rich client and plans to kill Tom when he gets too close to the truth.
- Anti-Climactic Unmasking: Machine is nothing more than a bald guy who does it For the Evulz. He even has a speech about it.
- Ax-Crazy Knife Nut: Machine, the man who committed the murder on the 8mm tape. Wears a BDSM mask and likes to murder people with a long knife.
- Bald of Evil: Machine.
- Book and Switch: This is how Tom Welles realises Max California might be useful. He's reading porn while working in an adult bookstore, but Welles notes he's underlining passages and calls him on it. Max is actually reading Truman Capote's In Cold Blood.
- Card-Carrying Villain: Machine and Dino Velvet definitely qualify.
- Cowboy Cop: Welles becomes one when killing Eddie.
- Deadpan Snarker: Max California.
- Defensive Failure: Welles has one of the men involved in the making of the snuff film tied to a support bar in the building where the film was made. He has his gun trained on the man's head...but can't bring himself to fire, even as the man taunts him (to the point of licking the gun). Welles then steps outside, calls the mother of the snuff film's victim, and begs for permission to kill the man. He gets it. Five seconds later he pistol-whips him to death.
- Disappointed By The Motive: In the climax, Machine admits that he killed the girl because he simply wanted to, and that he likes to hurt and kill people. This enrages Tom enough to kill him.
- Divide and Conquer: Welles is about to be murdered when he reveals exactly how much money — a million dollars — Mr. Christian paid for his snuff film. The others immediately turn on the lawyer who commissioned the film, giving Welles time to grab a weapon.
- Dragon Their Feet: Welles kills (or sees killed) the people who created the snuff film before going after the "performer" who murdered the girl. Justified, the actual murderer was injured and it took Welles a while to figure out he was.
- Driven to Suicide: When Welles informs her the film is real, Mrs Christian kills herself rather than live with the knowledge that her husband was responsible.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Machine is revealed to be a psychopath mama's boy who only loves his mother.
- Even Evil Has Standards: When Tom first investigates the underground porn rings for snuff films he is driven out at gunpoint for daring to ask for it. Others into extreme bondage rape and sell kiddy porn are likewise angry at being asked about it. It takes a real sicko to find one, and even then it's fake (simulated, no one dies.)
- Famous Last Words: The filmmaker Velvet, after being shot in the neck by a .32.
"Not this way...I wanted something more cinematic..."
- Faux Affably Evil: Dino Velvet.
- Film Noir: Of the neo-noir type.
- For the Evulz: Machine's only reasons to kill and butcher women in Dino Velvet's movies.
Machine: There's no mystery. Things I do, I do them because I like them! Because I want to.
- Also Mr. Christian's reason for having the snuff film made:
Longdale: "Because he could. He did it because he could."
- Freudian Excuse: Machine goes out of his way to defy the trope. The idea that some people are just plain twisted is one of the core ideas explored in the film.
Machine: "Mommy didn't beat me. Daddy didn't rape me. I'm this way because I am."
- Gory Discretion Shot: We never see the murder being committed on the 8mm reel, just Welles' reaction to it.
- He-Man Woman Hater: Eddie Poole.
- He Who Fights Monsters: Lampshaded by Max, who notices that Welles isn't as grossed out by what he's seeing as he used to be. Welles himself would be subversion however, since he still retains a strong moral center throughout the movie, and that instance didn't involve a suspected snuff film.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Machine at the end gets killed by Welles with his own knife.
- Impersonating an Officer: Welles poses as a government investigator to interview the girl's mother. As he's working for a highly paying client, I guess he thinks it's worth the risk. Toward the end of the movie, he claims to be a police officer when ringing around the hospitals looking for the man he stabbed, but by that stage Welles is so personally involved in the case that he doesn't care about the legality.
- Improvised Weapon: His pistol having been confiscated, Welles stabs a villain with the pistol's cleaning rod.
- Karmic Death: Machine usually uses a sharp long knife to kill his victims. At the climax Welles kills him with the same weapon.
- Large Ham: Peter Stormare as Dino Velvet. Seems like he had a lot fun playing him.
- Little Useless Gun: Averted; Velvet dies after being shot in the neck by one, complaining that his death should be more dramatic.
- Malevolent Masked Men: Machine is a tremendous one.
- Mood Whiplash: Welles and Max finally stumble upon a purported snuff tape which shows hardcore sex followed by a grisly, real-looking murder of the victim. Horrified, they skip forward... and find that the slasher's next soon-to-be 'victim' is the same woman. Cue relieved, if disappointed groaning.
- Mysterious Watcher: He turns out to be the attorney Daniel Longdale, who commissioned the snuff film for Mr Christian. While it's odd that surveillance expert Welles doesn't notice him, Longdale has the advantage in that Welles is reporting everything he does back to his client, in order to show how hard he's working on the case.
- Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: Machine.
- Not-So-Harmless Villain: Inverted. The terrible masked Machine turns out to be a glasses-wearing geekish character who lives in his mother's basement.
"What were you expecting? A monster"
- Oh, Crap: Eddie Poole barely has time to scream "No!" when he realizes that Welles is about to beat him to death with his gun.
- Only Sane Man: In the hard-core underworld, Max California is the only one who is "normal" - he reads Truman Capote and he has dream of becominga Rock star.
- One Bullet Left: Welles, whose gun has been unloaded and left on a table, only has time to load a single round in the chamber. And he's facing two criminals. While handcuffed to a desk.
- Pistol-Whipping: One man taunts Welles with the fact that Welles can't murder him with his own gun because it's registered in his name. So Welles beats him to death with it.
- Posthumous Character: Welles spends the better part of this film trying to find out if Mary Anne Matthews is indeed one of these. She is.
- Psycho for Hire: Machine
- Psychopathic Man Child: Machine is a sadistic pervert who kills people on film. He also still lives with his mom despite being a middle-aged guy.
- Sidekick: Porn store employee Max California takes on this role. Welles even invites Max to join him as a partner.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Apparently this was why Mr Christian had the film made, rather than any sexual motive.
- Smug Snake: Daniel Longdale.
- Snuff Film: Welles can find no proof that snuff films are anything other than an Urban Legend. It turned out that Mr Christian discovered this, too, so he hired Velvet to create one.
- Actually, it was Longsdale who came to that conclusion and improvised by contracting Velvet to make one. The movie strongly indicated that he was merely an interested purchaser.
- They Look Just Like Everyone Else
- Unhand Them, Villain!
Velvet: "Machine, set him free."
(Machine cuts Max's throat)
- The Voiceless: Machine intially starts as this (probably because he wants to hide his identity) before having real lines.