Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Habit – review

Director: Simeon Halligan

Release date: 2017

Contains spoilers

Not to be confused with the Larry Fessenden film from 20 years before, this trades the seedy underbelly of New York for the equally seedy underbelly of Manchester in the UK.

It is one of those films that some may question as to whether it is a vampire film but I felt it had enough of the tropes to barrel ahead into a review rather than examining it as a ‘Vamp or Not?’ It begins, however a good few years before its timeframe…

Elliot James Langridge sa Michael
A car drives through a forested road (this is later described as a park). There are a pair of children in the back of the car, Mand (played young by Leah Eddleston) and her brother Michael (played young by Jenson Leadley). Their mother (Nina Johnston, Blood and Bone China) drives and eventually pulls up where other families are walking into the woodland. Mand and Michael go and play and the mother heads back to the car but Michael falls, cutting his knee and calls for his mother. Mand helps him back and they see their mother… Michael (played older by Elliot James Langridge) wakes with a shock and Mand (played older by Sally Carman) is on the phone reminding him of his appointment at the dole office.

Michael and Mand
He gets to the office to see a young woman, Lee (Jessica Barden, Penny Dreadful), being manhandled out by a security guard – she gives Michael a wry smile. Having signed on he goes to the pub. Lee is in there and insinuates herself along with him, goes back to his (where his friend Dig (Andrew Ellis) is wondering around without pants) and then gets herself invited to stay. They go out drinking, bump into Mand and Michael becomes ragingly drunk and nearly knocked over by a car – at which point Mand leaves them in disgust.

join us Michael
The next day Michael is asked to go with Lee to see her Uncle Ian (William Ash), he runs a massage parlour (actually a brothel) and she is due to get some cash from him. She suggests that he might want to give Michael a job. Obviously, there is going to be something odd about the parlour and, when he goes back to see one of the girls, Alex (Roxanne Pallett), who offered him a discount Michael is faced with a murder. He tells Lee, who persuades him to go back to Ian (rather than the police) and finds himself with a job as a doorman. This quickly escalates to him walking into a lockup owned by the parlour to see a cannibalistic feast.

Through the early part of the film Lee has been hinting that he, like her, has something inside. Whilst he passes out when seeing the feasting on flesh, in the first instance, he is quickly drawn to it (on awakening) and joins in. The cannibalism is drawn in such a way that there is clearly an erotic side to it, it is raw and makes the participant feel good. Ian describes it as waking up and a hunger is talked about. We can see this as a turning of sort – though these are living vampires – they need the feed once it has been awakened, it makes them feel good and means they need nothing else. There is a hint of a bigger picture around Lee but that isn’t explored, rather it seems set up for a future chapter.

What I did notice was that Michael was 'dreaming forward', as though he subconscious recognised the others like him before his conscious did and introduced things into his dreams like Alex licking blood before he actually saw a feed. When approached by a girl in a club he fantasises about biting into her neck whilst with her, indicating that his (very new) habit is a compulsion. I also felt that a scene in a bar with a crucifix theme was deliberately chosen as a counterpoint to the normal vampire/cross paradigm.

Lee feeding
The acting in this, on the whole, is good though Langridge seems a little too shell-shocked, though at other times (such as when he takes a beating) he displays a manic-ness that fits well. Barden, as Lee, plays the girl of indeterminate age well. The film itself, however, could have been paced better and the ending is a bit of a damp squib, indeed there is a climactic moment that kind of peters out. However there was a grittiness I liked and I would definitely watch it again. 6 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

On Demand @ Amazon US

On DVD @ Amazon UK

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