Urban Cinefile
"Christine's relationship with Raoul is her romantic awakening as a teenager, but her pull towards the Phantom is a very sexual, very deep, very soulful union"  -Joel Schumacher, director, The Phantom of the Opera (2004)
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday July 28, 2020 

Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE



A small, seemingly innocuous plastic reel of film leads surveillance specialist Tom Welles (Nicolas Cage) down an increasingly dark and frightening path. With the help of the streetwise Max (Joaquin Phoenix), Welles follows a bizarre trail of evidence to determine the fate of a complete stranger. As his work turns into obsession, he drifts farther and farther away from his wife (Catherine Keener), family and simple life as a small-town private eye.

"One would expect better from writer Andrew Kevin Walker who penned Seven; maybe he thought he was infallible after that movie. 8 MM is a film with more holes that you can poke a stick that; it's actually quite dreary. Joel Schumacher is a director who loves the visuals, and here, as his cameras roam the underbelly of a seedy world inhabited by Nicolas Cage's private detective, one becomes all too aware that this is a film that is all style and no substance. Sure it's gritty enough at times, and has its compelling moments, but ultimately it's a nasty little film, full of irrelevant and excessive violence, underwritten, one-dimensional characters, and a screenplay that doesn't hold up. While the narrative itself is problematic, so is the delineation of central character Tom Welles. Here we have a highly experienced, detached, professional private eye, who is forced, through circumstance, to solve the mystery of a dead teenager. Then there's Cage, who delivers one of the year's most monotonous performances. Far better is Joaquin Phoenix as Welles' guide to the world of s&m porn and snuff. He gives the film much needed energy. What we have is a film not unlike the 8mm snuff film that Welles finds: Dark, dingy, overly violent, unpleasant and unfathomable. In all, not a pretty picture."
Paul Fischer

"In the trancelike opening shots of 8MM, he’s a barely glimpsed figure, furtive behind a pair of dark glasses, slipping sideways through the crowd. It only takes a second, though, for us to recognise the receding hairline; the oddly muscular torso encased by a stylish black suit; the hangdog, mournful look, a cigarette at the corner of the mouth. For quite a while now, Cage has seemed bent on making himself into a franchise, emptying everything out of his acting except for a few trademarks that say ‘Nicolas Cage.’ As always, there's an unpleasant smirk hidden somewhere in his performance, though mainly here he's impassively glum, like an angel of death who’s been in the job too long. He's appalled but not surprised by the supposed horrors of the S&M porn scene, a murky netherworld filled with exotic freaks and writhing souls in torment. In fact, Cage is easily the strangest person in the movie, otherwise a lurid thriller (very professionally directed by Joel Schumacher) with a script that tries to make a big statement about the Banality of Evil. Needless to say, the gaudy result has all the moral depth of a ghost-train ride. Still, the approach is relentlessly earnest, longwinded, and grim. This is entertainment? Joaquin Phoenix gets to crack a few jokes alongside his black hole of a co-star, while Amy Morton, with a wrenching cameo as a bereaved mother, is the only cast member to hit an emotional nerve. It’s worth pondering, by the way, why narrow-gauge (8MM) film is meant to be automatically sinister (blurry, grainy, illicit). Supposing you left Hollywood alone, and went off for the afternoon to see some cheap Super-8 movies...is that what the filmmakers find really scary?"
Jake Wilson

"If you're not sickened by Nicolas Cage's dark journey into the realms of the hardcore porn industry, chances are you'll be intrigued by it. Bit by bit, an authentic version of this illegitimate world is brought to life with kinky detail by talented hack director Joel Schumacher. Schumacher's last two films were the muddled messes Batman Forever and Batman & Robin, but here he has at least proven himself capable of following a structured story and making it entertaining. With a script from a writer of such gritty wit as Andrew Kevin Walker, it would be hard not to make 8MM a success. Unfortunately, Schumacher's direction sometimes flinches. Whereas Walker realizes the capacity for a disturbing but profound film, Schumacher simply makes a thriller that is edgy enough to warrant a sitting. Although this film is a good example of why a director and writer need to be on the same level, 8MM is nonetheless an amusing full-throttle journey into places and characters that are rarely looked at in movies."
Luke Buckmaster, Teen Critic

Email this article


Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 2
Mixed: 0




8 MM (M15+)

CAST: Nicolas Cage, Joaquin Phoenix, James Gandolfini, Peter Stormare, Anthony Heale

DIRECTOR: Joel Schumacher

PRODUCER: Gavin Polone, Judy Hofflund, Joel Schumacher

SCRIPT: Andrew Kevin Walker


EDITOR: Mark Stevens III

MUSIC: Mychael Danna


RUNNING TIME: 123 minutes



VIDEO RELEASE: October 13, 1999


© Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2020