A private investigator played by Nicolas Cage, is hired by a rich man to figure out whether a snuff film is real or not.
Right from the get-go, 8mm shows the audience what they're in for, as Tom (Cage) makes his way over to a secluded mansion, to investigate who is responsible for the making of a "snuff" film, and whether it's authentic. For those not familiar with the word "snuff"; it's basically a real life videotaping of someone being killed. I have heard of such a thing being thrown around the web, for some reason it's something people want to see, but I steer clear. At first he immediately turns the offer down, stating it isn't really in his realm of duty, not his cup of tea. Soon after, he is offered a large sum of money as a reward, and changes his mind, albeit reluctantly.
This film is beautifully shot to say the least. It's dark nearly the whole time, and the film-makers really did a great job implementing the appropriate locations for the theme. Many viewers may be turned away to it's graphic nature, and believe me you, it has it's fair share of that. However, it's warranted, and deemed necessary for the film to work. I would consider it a crime-noir, but it's really a combination of multiple genres including thriller and horror. "Chinatown" comes to mind when comparing the two. I myself love weird, brutal crime stories, so I greatly enjoyed this one.
The first half of the film is a great start-up, and builds suspense very well, drawing me right into the cryptic and eerie story, like that out of a Stephen King Novel. The first and second half's are very different, but the second holds plenty of terrifying visuals. Not "Poop-your-pants scary", but it had me going for awhile. The first half is brilliant in it's own right. After Tom accepts the proposition, and visits many places, including a porn shop, with some snuff films also located there. He really wants to get to the bottom of this mystery, making it his top priority. Joaquin Phoenix has a small role, playing an odd character by the name of Max California. He's an employee at one of the two video stores Tom stops by. Max seems to know something, so the two form somewhat of an alliance as they progress into cracking the case. Max then takes Tom to the shop mentioned above, with all the snuff and porn tapes, and such, where a clue is found, pushing Tom into one heck of a crazy situation. He then encounters many obstacles, including a conspiracy regarding the snuff film and the guy who hired him.
Nicolas Cage most definitely does not disappoint here, as his acting range is shown to a great extent. He can be funny, off-beat or serious, and "8MM" shows that. It's one of his best films. This is one journey you do not want to miss, filled with brutal imagery, violence and plot twists, that all lead up to a truly gripping climax, not to be overlooked.