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Overall Rating
2.77

Awesome: 7.45%
Worth A Look27.95%
Average: 22.36%
Pretty Bad: 18.63%
Total Crap: 23.6%

12 reviews, 89 user ratings


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8MM
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by Rob Gonsalves

"A thankless wallow in slime."
1 stars

There are some people, I'm sure, who will defend the pointlessly ugly and monotonous '8mm' because of those very qualities. It's dark, twisted, repulsive, daring! Let's stand back and admire the filmmakers' stark integrity! Uh, no, let's not.

If I lifted a rock and pointed a camera at the squirming things underneath for two hours, would you praise my uncompromising vision? No, you'd say it's gross and stupid. 8mm sets a new record for gross stupidity; it drags us through the dregs and doesn't even reward us with anything original.

A can of film is found in the secret vault of a recently deceased billionaire. It appears to be a snuff film -- pornography climaxing in the murder of a teenage girl. The billionaire's widow hires private investigator Tom Welles (Nicolas Cage) to find out whether the film is real or faked. The assignment starts Tom -- a family man with a wife (Catherine Keener) and baby daughter perpetually waiting at home -- on a numbingly squalid odyssey through the porn underworld. Along the way, he picks up an unlikely partner -- Max California (Joaquin Phoenix), a porn-shop clerk who seems to know every two-bit sleaze merchant on both coasts. They make a funny team for a while, a bit of levity on this grim journey, and the movie could have used a whole lot more of the smart, quirky Phoenix.

My expectations for 8mm were split, because the director is Joel Schumacher, who either banalizes anything he touches (A Time to Kill, Falling Down) or turns it into eye candy for hyperactive kids (Batman Forever and Batman and Robin); yet the screenwriter is Andrew Kevin Walker, who penned the diabolical serial-killer entry Seven. Judging from 8mm and Seven, Walker likes to explore squalor and madness; his work on Seven managed to be philosophical while packing a sensationalistic, National Enquirer wallop. Here, though, he just rubs our noses in slime, and it's less shocking than degrading and depressing. We get glimpses of pathetic men lurking in underground fringe-porn shops, browsing videos of rape, bestiality, child pornography. It's as if Walker had just zeroed in on one deadly sin, lust, and the movie shows no sexuality -- much less any erotica -- that isn't diseased and foul. Anti-porn zealots should love 8mm, yet another conservative movie in disguise.

In the past, good actors have saved Schumacher from disaster, but nobody here can do much with their roles -- not the usually amusing James Galdolfini (as a sleaze-porn producer), not the hatchet-faced Peter Stormare (as "Dino Velvet," a gonzo-porn director in the mold of Gregory Dark), and especially not poor Catherine Keener, stuck at home whining on the phone while cuddling her baby in every possible shot. Nicolas Cage, too, seems to be coasting; this is essentially his yearning, puppy-eyed performance from City of Angels, a fatal mistake here. Such a sensitive, floppy-eared soul hardly seems credible as a private investigator (he also sets a movie record for gun-dropping). All Cage has going for him is his decency and determination to crack the mystery.

But then it's such a lame mystery. 8mm reminded me of a parade of far better films: The Silence of the Lambs was better at detailing the sadness of self-hating girls kidnapped and killed to satisfy evil pleasures; Strange Days and Videodrome got deeper into the implications of snuff films; Man Bites Dog, a great obscure film from 1993, probed the stark pornography of murder in ways that were truly shocking; Hardcore, modelled on John Ford's The Searchers, had a more compelling narrative arrow (the father rescuing his wayward daughter); and Seven at least provided a damn motive for its killer, twisted though it was.

What's repulsive about 8mm isn't what it shows us; it's that it shows us these things and then tells us there's no meaning to any of it. In 8mm, we keep getting spritzed with callow nihilism: People make snuff films "because they can," people watch young girls butchered because they "felt like it," people kill and torture because they "want to."

There's no answer; fuck it; this is how the world is. Gee, thanks, guys. The true meaning of that girl's death, finally, is a big opening weekend for Columbia.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=731&reviewer=416
originally posted: 01/02/07 16:48:33
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User Comments

9/12/17 morris campbell realistic but unpleasant 2 stars
5/18/13 Tim Sometimes silly, but appropriately dark and has some real tension. Cage is quite good, too 4 stars
9/16/12 cindy madson great 5 stars
1/27/10 David A. A well-done detective story that's intense enough to satisfy horror fans as well. 4 stars
7/30/09 Helgen This is the type of shit that happens every day in this world, fool reviewer. 4 stars
7/20/08 Shaun Wallner Nicholas Cage is great in all his films. 5 stars
3/03/08 ladavies I normally don't like N Cage, but I was rooting for him in this film. 4 stars
10/22/07 ben dover criminally underated whoever says this is trash is missing the point 5 stars
8/02/06 Indrid Cold A solid, intriguing mystery, but the story is frequently silly. 3 stars
3/11/06 Dillon Hard-edged and morally conscious 5 stars
10/25/05 R.W.Welch Bleak Private Investigator tale gets by but is slack in spots. 3 stars
10/14/05 Mark Louis Baumgart "They do evil because they can" speaks volumes. Gets better every time I watch it. 5 stars
9/13/05 Fenix Not so much in the plot as it is the reality of it. Good Moive 4 stars
8/16/05 ES i didn't find it scary or alarming, pretty fake actually= save your money 2 stars
7/09/05 Moctezuma An enjoyable flick 4 stars
11/22/04 Archanist_101 Mr. Cage's performance was atonoushing...!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 4 stars
7/27/04 Jake harrison Could have been good, cage as usual overacts, I wish his wife would have stayed out 3 stars
2/07/04 LIAM JACKSON a bizarre underworld of vicious, demented sexual perverts and their horrid hobbies. 5 stars
1/27/04 p3online A PRICELESS PIECE tracks Monster minds & absolute sickness. NICs performance riddles brain! 4 stars
9/07/03 Mr. Hat Pope's really full of shit. Anyway,it's really dark but well-made.FROM THE WRITER OF SE7EN! 4 stars
6/18/03 Jack Bourbon Smut. And I ain't talking about the subject of the film. 2 stars
3/24/03 Jack Sommersby Studio-interfered-with film has only glimpses of its innate potential. 1 stars
3/19/03 Monster W. Kung Exploitative garbage. Fact: Nicholas Cage is one of the worst actors ever. 2 stars
1/29/03 Jimmy Jamez it wasnt THAT bad =\ 4 stars
10/27/02 MarktheShark6 Probably one of Nic Cage's worst action movies ever, it was a bit sick. 2 stars
8/08/02 JesseL This is a movie for adult minds. Joaquin Phoenix stands out. 4 stars
5/10/02 ihe8cage Cage is the worst actor ever. Some how he manages to get all the good parts in good movies 1 stars
4/06/02 Veronica Tatterworth Whether you love or hate skinflicks, this'll do nothing for you. 1 stars
2/13/02 Eduardo Del Valle It's not that bad. Just heavy, a little bit worse than seven... Don't wait for sun, joy etc 4 stars
1/12/02 Joe Wooden acting, terrible dialogue, insipid plot. 1 stars
12/31/01 Mr. Hat (formerly Joe Zappa) D*E*P*R*E*S*S*I*N*G: No comedy, always dark, low-key, sick. 2 stars
8/10/01 E-Funk Pointless and uninspired. Joel Schumacher hasn't made a really good film since Lost Boys. 2 stars
8/01/01 Crisis Management Phony and predictable, and the wanna-be message is completely lost in mindless tripe. 2 stars
7/01/01 J Personally I think this is much worse that Batman & Robin. It may be just me. 1 stars
6/12/01 cinkcool I dont know what ididnt like about. Just didnt. Maybe cause its about child porn? 2 stars
6/09/01 Serial_Monk_the_Jawbreaker Poorly written and predictable. Also wicked sappy. This is no LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT 2 stars
2/21/01 Rocket Boy Joel Schummacher, Nicolas Cage. One talentless; One's time is up. Awful movie. 1 stars
11/21/00 Baumgart A truly disturbing one. Anyone who has ever had any experience with the seamy world of por 4 stars
10/25/00 Terrie Smith Disturbing film; definitely not for everyone. Rather subdued acting performance from Cage. 4 stars
9/14/00 Jed Batman & Robin is not he worst J.S film this proves it. 1 stars
7/18/00 kittykat it was ok 3 stars
3/26/00 Jed And you people thought "Batman & robin" was bad. 1 stars
2/21/00 arnold really fucking weird,extremely sick 1 stars
1/06/00 perverted pixie A slow starter, but once it kicks in- it kicks ARSE! 4 stars
10/25/99 Marshy It's the equivant of Cruising for the 90's- misses the point in many places, but it's good. 4 stars
10/16/99 The Bomb 69 standard stuff except for the snuff 3 stars
10/15/99 Jeffnerd Nasty (sick) movie with a rotten plot 1 stars
10/11/99 Weird Andy Cage's annoying wife nearly wrecks this film ala "Jar-Jar Binks." 3 stars
9/04/99 godsdog Has it's flaws, but strays from typical "insert climax here" formula. J. Phoenix was great 4 stars
8/20/99 J-Dogg Underrated, but not perfect: Cage brings a stone, robot-like performance. Still, great film 4 stars
7/29/99 howard hawks woh baby!! 4 stars
7/27/99 emperor Cage was horrible. 2 stars
7/24/99 Hagbard Celine Cage is a talentless schmuck. Adam Sandler could've carried it off better. 2 stars
7/04/99 J-Dogg Why does everyone hate this? I thought it was a great, dark subject for a picture. 4 stars
6/28/99 Ricardo How could Cage be so stupid to take this job 1 stars
6/09/99 Lucas jackson I should have known Joel Schumacher directed this piece of shit 1 stars
4/25/99 XenoWolf this sucked pretty hard cock 2 stars
4/16/99 lucas jackson it's one fucking bad movie 2 stars
4/16/99 Kevin Mcsam It was the best!!!!!!!!! Bitch slapped 5 stars
4/15/99 Jon Jackson What a piece of trash, I like porn as much as the next perv, but this movie sucks 1 stars
4/14/99 rat i fell asleep 1 stars
4/11/99 Tristynn Make sure your not feeling queasy when you see this one.its a killer.(no pun intended*lol* 5 stars
4/10/99 Keith Calder What really makes this movie worth watching is Joaquin Phoenix. He was incredible. 4 stars
4/01/99 Samantha Gara I love Nick, and I thaught this was a kick-ass movie. I will see it again. 5 stars
4/01/99 Thanatos The scene with the guy licking the barrel of the gun was completely fucking hilarious!! 5 stars
3/25/99 Powrhug you gotta be up for it, but this was an intersting study-better start than finish though 4 stars
3/21/99 Daddy Rich Good movie, but disturbing at times. Phoenix did a great job along with Cage. 4 stars
3/18/99 Joel Prescott I was hood but it could have been better. Nothing was surprizing it was really pridictable. 4 stars
3/17/99 Mr Showbiz Schumacher doesn't have the slightest idea how to justify making a movie about snuff films 1 stars
3/16/99 Angela Nicolas Cage is awesome in anything!!! 5 stars
3/14/99 Ah Dooey Not that bad, not that good either. 3 stars
3/14/99 Kevin Knapp This movie was the worst movie I have EVER seen. I liked Spice World better! 1 stars
3/13/99 Liz W Nicholas and Joquin were good but the story was too disturbing and drug on. 3 stars
3/10/99 Lori Tisberger I hated that movie!! I was so disappointed 1 stars
3/10/99 jvt Not very good at all 2 stars
3/10/99 Oggy Se7en was better. 3 stars
3/05/99 Beth Nic Cage SUCKS ALL ASS all by himself. 1 stars
3/04/99 Bobby Luv Not a family film, it gets a bad rap for exploring a controversial topic 4 stars
3/04/99 Bill Hartman Could have seen more action at a bingo hall.... 2 stars
3/04/99 The Graduate Predictable and poorly paced. "The film" isn't even that graphic, not for an R flick. 3 stars
3/04/99 Mr Showbiz A muddled, uninvolving thriller. If you're expecting Se7en you'll be bitterly disappointed. 1 stars
3/01/99 jen joaquin's the only reason this isn't on my SAA list... 2 stars
3/01/99 frank 'i need your permission to punish them. just say yes.' 1 stars
2/22/99 Mr Film Cage is still 'The Man'.. 8MM is very, very cool. 4 stars
1/06/99 The Dude SORRY GUYS I THOUGHT IT WAS REALLY COOL 5 stars
11/25/98 Bad Kosh Somewhat sappy, not really great, those sucks have a lot to learn. 3 stars
11/18/98 K-Dog Mmm you're a funny fuck.. is your favourite film 'armageddon' real film critic? 3 stars
11/17/98 The REAL Film Critics Don't listen to K-Dog..If you're not a tight ass,you'll like it.. 4 stars
10/19/98 Dark Horizons All the dramatic points or lines where almost completely lost on the audience. Painful. 2 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  26-Feb-1999 (R)

UK
  23-Apr-1999

Australia
  15-Apr-1999 (R)




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