10 Subplots That Saved Entire Movies

9. Mary Ann's Mother - 8mm

Nicolas Cage 8mm
Columbia Pictures

Screenwriter Andrew Walker has an interest, one might even call it an obsession, with making films that are as uncomfortable and bleak as humanely possible. We have him to thank for the movie Seven, and it was his intention to make his follow up script for Joel Schumacher's 8mm starring Nicholas Cage, even more nihilistic.

And that did end up happening, to be fair, but not to the extent that Walker wanted. Let me explain.

8mm is the story of an investigator trying to get to the bottom of a case involving illegal porn and the possible existence of a violent snuff film. Nicholas Cage's character spends the whole movie trying to get to the bottom of this mystery, both to give the family of a murdered young girl named Mary Ann some closure, but also to find out why anyone would even do these things to begin with.

Walker's nihilistic view of humankind is mostly preserved, save for how the movie handled the family of the victim, Mary Ann. the subplot of this movie shows Cage's character trying to help Mary Ann's mother get closure for what happened to her daughter. When she sees the snuff film that was made about Mary Ann, it seems like the truth has destroyed her completely, rather than set her free.

However, this subplot was changed by Schumacher near the end to have the emotionally destroyed Cage end the film by reading a letter from the mother, who - having come to grips with what happened - thanks him for caring so much about her daughter and for finding the truth.

This small change to the film's B-plot helped keep the film from becoming unbearably bleak like Ridley Scott's unwatchable Alien: Covenant.


John Tibbetts is a novelist in theory, a Whatculture contributor in practice, and a nerd all around who loves talking about movies, TV, anime, and video games more than he loves breathing. Which might be a problem in the long term, but eh, who can think that far ahead?