Nicolas Cage plays Tom Welles, a surveillance specialist who gets a call from the widow of a rich tycoon to investigate a "snuff" film the widow found in her late husbands private vault. A snuff film is one in which a woman is raped, beaten and then killed. This film depicts a young girl getting brutally murdered, and the widow wants to know if it's real. Snuff films are generally considered to be urban legends. People talk about them, but they don't really exist. Welles takes the case because he knows that it's a big payday for him and his wife and child. What he doesn't realize it what horrors the film will bring to him, and how it will eventually change his life forever.
8mm was written by Andrew Kevin Walker, the writer of Seven, another dark and disturbing film. I wonder what happened to Walker in his life to make him think of things like this. What I do like about both films is that he doesn't give it the old "Hollywood" makeover. Who would have thought that Gwyenth Paltrow's head would have been in that box at the end of Seven? And the same goes here. There's a scene near the end where the movie could have gone "Hollywood" but instead Walker makes Welles cross the line between what he was and what this case has made him become. And that's what I liked about the movie. It didn't go where a normal movie would take you.
What I didn't like was that it dragged at times. There were a lot of scenes that seemed to go on forever, and without reason. I think Schumacher wanted to bring the tension up, but instead he kept the action and drama from building up. What he considered tense moments were, at times, just slow. I also don't think the story took you into the lives of the people that make these films (pornography, not snuff films). I liked that we saw Cage's character go from happy husband to deranged, but we never got into the people who made him that way. There was some of that near the end, but I thought it could have gone deeper.
There was a line in the movie that said "When you dance with the Devil, the Devil don't change, the Devil changes you." Besides the fact that literally it makes no sense to me (why would you dance with the Devil and if you did, do you really think you could change him?) figuratively, it is the heart of this film. Welles thinks he can just walk into this world and walk right back out without being affected, but without even knowing it, he gets sucked in and almost loses what he treasures most.
So overall 8mm was a entertaining movie. It was very dark (both in lighting and in substance) and at times very disturbing. At times it got slow, but Cage makes it worth watching. But I warn you, this is not a film for everyone, so think about it.