If there was a flash of insight, showing how an ordinary man can be changed by surrounding himself with humanity’s darkest depravity, it was lost among the cop movie clichés. In 8mm, Nicolas Cage is Tom Welles, a private investigator hired to determine whether a snuff film is real or fake. Instead of asking an expert (say, CU professor Stan Brakhage for instance), Cage spends weeks and weeks immersing himself in the death-porn culture. Every half an hour or so, for about 30 seconds, we are reminded that he has a wife and child who are suffering immensely from his absence. That, coupled with his sidekick’s dire predictions, I believe that Welles was supposed to be descending into depravity himself. But Cage’s flat, deadpan acting style makes it hard to pick up on his character’s moral demise, much less care about it.
Videodrome, 1983, David Cronenberg, a much more disturbing film about snuff films, their dark fascination, and trauma-inducing power.