Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
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8MM 239.jpg

Private Detective 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.

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

Tropes used in 8mm include:

  • Amoral Attorney: Daniel Longdale.
  • Ax Crazy Knife Nut: Machine, the man who commited the murder on the 8mm tape. Wears a BDSM mask and likes to murder people with a long knife.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Machine and Dino Velvet definitely qualify.
  • Chekhov's Gun: played straight with the Velvet's crossbow and Welles' pistol cleaning rod.
    • Subverted with Welles' gun (twice): he reassures his wife that he won't need it, but when he comes to actually need it he is made to empty the bullets. He is able to reload one bullet, but is only able to use it to shoot the handcuffs, not the baddies.
      • He beats Eddie to death with it (rather than fire it and risk incriminating himself).
  • 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.
  • Deus Ex Machina: lampshaded as Longdale is called "Satan Ex Machina" in the reveal at the end.
  • Divide and Conquer: Welles is about to be murdered when he reveals exactly how much money -- a million dollars -- 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 where 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.
  • Famous Last Words: The filmmaker Velvet, after being shot in the neck by a .25.

"Not this way...I wanted something more cinematic..."


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 attempt to subvert the trope. The idea that some people are just plain twisted is one of the core ideas explored in the film. Freudian analysis may not be needed to provide an excuse, when the reason he provides for killing people is because he wants / likes to. No matter which way you cut it, he is a psychopath.

Machine: "Mommy didn't beat me. Daddy didn't rape me. I'm this way because I am."


Max: "When you dance with the Devil, the devil doesn't change - he 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, 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. (see, Chekhov's Gun above).
  • It's Personal: Welles is eager to solve the case, but only because he believes it will give him an entrance into the lucrative world of high-society clients. By the time the movie has finished, he's graduated to full-on Vigilante Man.
  • 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.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: Machine is a tremendous one.
  • Moral Event Horizon: crossed so many times, arguably the whole film really revolves around this concept:
    • Mr. Christian for wanting the film made.
    • Longdale for commissioning the film.
    • Dino, Eddie and Machine for making the film.
    • Machine for killing Mary Anne.
    • Welles for killing Eddie and Machine.
  • 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.
  • Not So Harmless: 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 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: 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.
  • Psycho for Hire: Machine.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Machine, arguably. (Lives at home with his mom - a member of "Faithful Christian Fellowship" - and likes to murder girls for fun? You could say he is an exemplar for this).
  • 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.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Welles does a lot of smoking, and hides it from his wife.
  • Smug Snake: Daniel Longdale.
  • Snuff Film: In an effort to reassure Mrs. Christian, both Welles and Longdale state that snuff films are nothing other than an Urban Legend. Welles sets off looking for proof to the contrary, whereas it turned out that Longdale had discovered this to be true (or at the very least difficult to acquire second hand) and so he hired Velvet to create one.
    • The movie strongly indicated that Mr. Christuan was merely an interested purchaser, and none the sicker for it.
  • They Look Just Like Everyone Else
  • Unhand Them, Villain!

Velvet: "Machine, set him free."
(Machine cuts Max's throat)

  • The Voiceless: Machine initially starts as this (probably because he wants to hide his identity) before having real lines.