To some critics, 8MM represented director Joel Schumacher hitting rock bottom after ruining the Batman franchise, with Nicolas Cage joylessly coming along for the ride. But unsavory subject matter alone is not enough to condemn this uncompromising look into the fetishistic underworld of hardcore pornography, which the viewer enters through a hardened family man and private investigator (Cage) investigating an apparent snuff film found in the private belongings of a dead billionaire. Film noir at its best, or maybe worst, 8MM gained notoriety for its perhaps unsurprising level of brutality, particularly in the frankness of the pornographic images that stretch its R rating. But Schumacher and Cage deserve some credit for the unflinching way they immerse themselves in the subject matter without apparent regard for the stain to their reputations. Furthermore, the film avoids some of the more nauseating clichés that often attend any film in which the hero's darling wife (an underused Catherine Keener) and infant daughter are among the first introduced. Its relentlessly unhappy outlook will turn off some viewers, and there are none of the stylistic advances that characterize the best in film noir. But the sheer audacity of this perverse yet fascinating topic may awaken the curiosity of those who can hold their meals down.