Directed By Joel Schumacher
By: Eric G.
There are so many possibilities with this premise, but, then again, this is the director of D.C. Cab and Batman Forever. Plus, don’t get your hopes up- it’s only rated R. Nicholas Cage plays a low-key P.I. with extraordinary equipment at his disposal (even though we are to believe he doesn’t have a lot in the bank), who is hired by an elderly woman whose very, very wealthy husband has just died. She has someone crack open his safe, and, oops, there’s a snuff film inside. Obviously, the wife wants to know what her man was up to, so she makes Cage an offer to find out if the film is authentic or not.
Cage approaches his character with the usual over-zealous, overacting bit that he has felt necessary ever since the academy gave him the Oscar for Leaving Las Vegas. Such histrionics work in films like Face Off and, maybe, even Con Air because of Cage's inherent eccentricities, but 8MM needed something a little more subdued. David Duchovny would have been a better choice for the title role (or anyone with an ounce of restraint). Schumacher directs this with as much pretense and bombast as is expected, but the plot overshadows some of his showiness in the first half (the score, however, is unforgivably cheesy). Joaquin Phoenix is excellent as a Porn Store clerk with a struggling band, who gets tangled up in Cage’s sloppy, no-one-would-ever-do-that investigation.
The seedy underbelly of the hard core porn market is truly disturbing, despite the stereotyped fetishistic uniforms of its participants. Schumacher does a good job keeping suspense at the forefront, yet his humorless direction becomes almost cartoonish. Andrew Kevin Walker, who wrote Seven, also wrote this screenplay, and the film shares some of Seven’s grim outlook but fails to retain that true sense of horror that Seven reveled in. Sadly, 8MM shifts into a pointless revenge caper in the last quarter, living out every possible cliché in the book for scary movies. Schumacher loses touch with his original intention of playing out of bounds, but at least he opened the door for someone to up the ante.