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A 1999 mystery-thriller film directed by Joel Schumacher and starring Nicolas Cage, with a supporting cast that includes Joaquin Phoenix, James Gandolfini, and Peter Stormare.

Private Detective Tom Welles (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.

A direct-to-video "sequel" called 8mm 2 was released in 2005. It has no connection whatsoever to the original.

Not to be confused with 8 Mile or Super 8.

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. Not only that, but he stole most of the million dollars for himself too.
  • Anti-Climactic Unmasking: Machine, when unmasked, is revealed to be just some bald fat guy in glasses, and he commits atrocities for no other reason than he likes it. He even points out that he was always an unpleasant human being.
  • Ax-Crazy: Machine may just be a henchman to Dino Velvet, but he enjoys doing whatever he's commissioned to do, be it murder or otherwise.
  • Bald of Evil: Underneath the mask, Machine is a pudgy-faced bald man.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Welles uncovers the terrible truth behind the film and kills (or sees the deaths of) all the men who had a hand in its production. He also relates Mary's fate to her mother, finally giving her closure after years of stress and worry. However, Mrs. Christian kills herself out of shame, Max ends up getting killed through no fault of his own and Welles is deeply traumatized from everything he bore witness to. He's also troubled by the fact that what happened to Mary will never be made known to the world, meaning proper judicial justice can never be dispensed.
  • 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.
  • Brain Bleach:
    Max California: There are some things that you see, and you can't unsee them. Know what I mean?
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Machine and Dino Velvet definitely qualify.
  • Central Theme: Sometimes, people will do horrible things for no other reason than because they can and they want to.
  • Combat Sadomasochist: Machine claims to be sexually aroused by violence when Tom confronts him.
  • 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.
    Eddie: Did you fuck me on this?
    Dino: Of course not, Edward.
    Eddie: Then why is he talking about a million dollars?
    Dino: He's saying that Longdale fucked us. Which is so totally, completely bizarre.
  • 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 who 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: Subverted with Machine. He only cares about his mother in order to keep up his Mask of Sanity.
  • 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 selling 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.)
    • Downplayed with Poole. He admits that he was disgusted by the murder he was forced to partake in, but only because he found it "gross" and not because he has any moral constraints.
  • Fat Bastard: Eddie Poole and Machine.
  • 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. It all just came down to the fact that Mr. Christian had the means to make such a film, and that he derived no sexual pleasure from watching genuine human suffering:
      Longdale: Because he could. He did it because he could. What other reason were you looking for?
  • Freudian Excuse: Machine goes out of his way to defy the trope. The idea that some people are just that twisted is one of the core ideas explored in the film.
    Machine: "Mommy didn't beat me. Daddy didn't rape me. I am what I am and that's all there is to it."
  • Gory Discretion Shot: We never see the murder being committed on the 8mm reel, just Welles' reaction to it.
  • Guns vs. Swords: The final confrontation between Tom Welles and Machine has the former wielding a pistol and the latter a knife. Machine hides the blade until he can throw it at Welles, making him drop the gun, but Welles manages to yank the knife out of himself and fatally stab Machine.
  • Hate Sink: Pretty much all persons involved in the snuff film's creation. Between Mr. Christian and Machine's attitude towards the project, Dino Velvet's pretentious and hammy demeanour regarding his work, Eddie Poole's misogynistic comments and Longdale's greedy nature, there is little to no Evil is Cool to be found.
  • He-Man Woman Hater: Eddie Poole is a revolting, misogynistic porn producer, and sees Mary Ann as nothing but a useless whore.
  • 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.
    Max: When you dance with the devil, the devil don't change. The devil changes you.
  • 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, he seems to consider it 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:
  • Little Useless Gun: Averted; Velvet dies after being shot in the neck by one, complaining that his death should be more dramatic.
  • Mad Artist: Dino Velvet has his men do horrible things in the name of art, namely, having a young woman raped and murdered on film.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: Machine wears a gimp mask in his films, or whenever he's about to kill someone.
  • 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.
  • "Number of Objects" Title
  • 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 becoming a 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: Eddie 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.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Eddie Poole, who is not only misogynistic but homophobic.
  • 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 "performs" in Dino Velvet's films as a way to exercise his murderous urges towards women.
  • Psycho Knife Nut: It's Machine's weapon of choice.
    Machine: You know the best part of killing someone? The look on their face. It's that look. Not when they're threatened. Not when you hurt them. Not even when they see the knife. It's when they feel the knife go in. That's it. It's surprise. They just can't believe it's really happening to them. She had that look, the girl, when she knew it wasn't just porno.
  • 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.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Averted with Eddie Poole. He insists he only participated in the film for the money and that seeing the end result actually made him sick. However, he's just as psychopathic and callous as Machine and Dino Velvet, especially where he taunts Welles over the girl's murder in the snuff film. And not to mention the fact he's also a sexist homophobe, as mentioned above.
  • The Reveal: Mr. Longsdale was in on it the whole time. He commissioned the snuff film to be made for Mr. Christian, privately followed Welles' investigation, and was working with Dino and Eddie to lure Welles into a trap. This discovery weighs heavily on Welles' shoulders.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Apparently this was why Mr Christian had the film made, rather than any sexual motive.
  • Serial Killer: Machine strongly implies that he's one in his final confrontation with Welles.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely / Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Welles interviews the mother of the missing girl. He goes back for a follow up interview to find she's cleaned the house and prettied herself up.
  • Sidekick: Porn store employee Max California takes on this role. Welles even invites Max to join him as a partner.
  • Smug Snake: Daniel Longdale and Eddie Poole.
  • Snuff Film: Welles can find no proof that snuff films are anything other than an Urban Legend. It turned out that Longsdale discovered this, too, so he hired Velvet to create one.
  • They Look Just Like Everyone Else!: The terrible masked Machine turns out to be a glasses-wearing geekish character who lives in his mother's basement.
  • 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.