I really thought I was going to enjoy this film, but somehow it falls flat. It starts off brightly, with our two desperados (Del Toro and Philippe) kidnapping a pregnant woman (Lewis) and making off with bodyguards in pursuit. The whole sequence has a deadpan, understated quality, with inventive action sequences and plenty of dry humour in the interaction between the characters. But what follows is simply a mess, in which various unsavoury villains attempt to swindle and murder each other. The climax recalls westerns, particularly Peckinpah, in the sheer intensity of the violence, as the doomed antiheroes attempt to shoot their way past endless armed men (as Juliette Lewis undergoes a caesarean birth - don't ask) but by this stage I'd had enough. The trouble with dispensing with real characters - not a single one is presented with psychology, personality or history - in favour of simple motives - greed, mainly - is that you run the risk of boring your audience. I didn't care who lived or died, or whether anyone actually got the money. Beyond the din of the gunfire and brooding looks and stares, this is a shallow, self-indulgent film with no heart.
Like the other user comments on the film, I can only recommend this low-key, dark, and very well paced film. The plot, judged in the cold light of day, is a mish-mash of familiar elements - angry ghosts, curses, a house built on a grave, psychic powers - staple fare for the X-Files. However, the film's strength is in the director's management of the central conceit - a mysterious video which, when watched, ensures that you will die a horrible, yet inexplicable death in precisely a week. The heroine's desperate quest to unlock the mystery of this video and, somehow, 'lift' the curse provides the film with structure and tension. As the hours tick away, and the deadline approaches I for one was gripped with a near-claustrophobic panic. And the climax, where we learn precisely what has apparently scared the video's victims to death, is shocking in its clever effacement of the one thing which reassures about television and film - it's only on the screen, it can't really hurt us... Don't miss.