8mm is a 1999 murder mystery film.
8 out of 10 stars. This one will deeply disturb you.
Tom Wells is a private investigator who works for the wealthy. After doing work for a respected senator, he gets a call from the attorney for the widow of steel tycoon named Mr. Christian who wishes to hire him. Mrs. Christian explains that upon her husband’s death she discovered a snuff film in his private safe. She wants Wells to determine who the girl is and if the film is real. She’s deeply disturbed by the violence in the film (the girl was raped and tortured first) and that after 45 years of marriage she had no idea her husband was capable of having such a film.
Mrs. Christian is clear on two points. 1. Money is no issue. 2. Absolute privacy is required. He can’t go to the police without first contacting Mrs. Christian so they can preserve her dead husband’s good name. Foolishly, Wells agrees.
Wells first goes to Cleveland, makes up a story, and gets access to national missing children cases. Each night he watches the snuff film to gain clues about where it was filmed and who was involved. He sees coding on the film for Supralux 544, a film that was discontinued in 1992. That means it was filmed sometime before or around 1992. He starts going through the missing children cases in 1993 and finds a girl missing since 1993, age 16, named Mary Anne Mathews.
Wells goes to visit Mary Anne’s mother Janet to find out what he can about Mary Anne. Janet knows virtually nothing except that Mary Anne hated her stepfather Dave and that two years after Mary Anne disappeared, Dave left Janet. Wells snoops around the house and finds Mary Anne hid her diary in a ziploc bag in the toilet tank in the dirty apartment. He reads the diary and discovers she ran off with her boyfriend, Warren Davidson, to become a movie star in Hollywood.
Wells goes to question Warren’s dad who tells him Warren is in prison on a breaking and entering conviction. So Wells goes to the prison to interview Warren. Warren never ran away with Mary Anne. He went to Hollywood and then one day Mary Anne showed up at his door. He closed the door on her and left her with no place to stay. He’d already moved onto another girl.
Wells returns to Janet’s house and puts the diary back so Janet can conveniently find it and get some peace. Then he goes to Hollywood since that’s where she was stranded by Warren. He flashes her photo around and buys a bunch of adult magazines, looking through the personal ads. Then he watches the snuff film on a larger screen and sees that there’s a third man in the room watching (besides the killer with the pentacle tattoo on his hand and the cameraman).
He goes back to the adult store and hires the clerk Max to hook him up with whoever makes snuff films. So that night Max takes him there. They have rape, bondage, child porn, and bestiality, but no snuff. Max takes him to a second location and they buy several snuff films. They go back to Max’s apartment and begin methodically watching them. They notice the same actress in several of the snuff films. So they are fake.
Wells next stop is a local shelter for women run by nuns. They remember Mary who stayed there and left her suitcase. Inside the suitcase is a flyer for the wax museum and a company called Celebrity Films. When he shows Eddie, the owner of Celebrity Films, Mary Anne’s photo, he flinches then denies knowing her. So Wells plants a bug in his office then watches him while listening in on his phone. Eddie immediately calls someone who sounds like the director who made the snuff film. Wells follows Eddie to a house in the woods where they are filming porn. He’s convinced Eddie’s somehow involved (and he’s right).
The next day Wells calls Eddie and tells him he knows he killed Mary Anne and filmed it. Then he waits for Eddie to call his accomplice. He does. He calls a director named Dino Velvet in New York City, famous for graphic porn films. Then Wells flies to New York City with Max because Max has a contact named Frenchie. In Dino’s films, Wells sees the same masked man with the pentacle tattoo on his hand. He’s an actor called Machine.
The next day, Max and Wells see Dino Velvet and commission a movie featuring Machine. Afterward Wells pays Max and tells him to go home before it gets dangerous.
The following day Wells goes to the appointed location for the shoot, an abandoned warehouse. Dino is armed with a crossbow and holds him as hostage while Machine disarms him and chains him up. Then Eddie and Mrs. Christian’s lawyer, Mr. Longdale, show up with a very beaten Max. They want the snuff film with Mary Anne or they’ll kill Max then his wife and daughter. And since Longdale hired him for Mrs. Christian they know exactly where he lives.
Wells convinces them he has the snuff film in his car. Longdale takes him at gunpoint out to his vehicle to get the snuff film. As they walk, they talk. Mr. Christian apparently paid $1 million to have the snuff film made. Why? Because he could. Longdale arranged the whole thing. He hired Wells because of all the private detectives, Wells was the youngest and most naive. He never thought he’d figure it out. He didn’t think he had the stomach for it.
Wells gives him the snuff film and they go back inside the warehouse. Rather than letting Max go, Machine slits his throat, killing him. Eddie kicks the crap out of Wells who can’t really defend himself with his hands handcuffed. As Eddie is kicking him, Wells tells Dino and Eddie about the million dollars Langdale took off with, the real amount that Mr. Christian paid for the snuff film. And as he thought, Longdale didn’t give Dino and Eddie $1 million. He gave them $10,000 and kept the rest. After the shock of a girl’s life being worth only $10,000, Wells goads them into going after Longdale which gives him a chance to escape. Dino and Eddie kill Longdale and Longdale shoots Dino in the process. Machine goes after Wells with a knife, but Wells stabs him first. Then Eddie chases Wells who escapes.
Wells gets away and calls his wife, telling her to get out of the house. Then he calls Mrs. Christian and tells her everything. They arrange to meet at 8 the go the police together. When he gets there, the butler gives him two envelopes. Mrs. Christian killed herself because she didn’t want to out her husband. The first envelope is to Mary’s family and contains money. The second is to him and says, “Try to forget this.”
Wells flies back to California. He finds Eddie packing and beats him up. Then he has Eddie show him where they killed her. Eddie takes him to a dump outside of town and tells him the whole thing. Wells calls Janet, tells her what happened to her daughter, and asks permission to punish her killers. Afterward he goes inside, beats Eddie to death, dumps all the snuff films and child porn in the room with Eddie, and sets the place on fire.
On a hunch that Machine is not dead, Wells calls local hospitals pretending to be a cop. He discovers George Anthony Higgins was treated for a stabbing wound and lives with his mom. Wells goes there, waits until the mom leaves, and creeps inside through a basement window. Machine is waiting for him with a knife and knocks him out the window. They both tumble onto the ground and Machine stabs Wells. Wells takes the knife out and stabs him back, killing him.
Wells barely makes it to the hospital. When he flies home, his wife is still there. She hasn’t left him. He falls to the floor sobbing, hugging her.
8 out 0f 10 stars. Not only does this film show the deep depravity of men, but the small price it takes to get someone raped, tortured, and killed.