The horror genre has seen quite a resurgence in recent years, with films such as It, Get Out and The Purge going on to become huge mainstream successes. This has meant that audiences have been treated a range of quality reboots and sequels over the past few years, as well as some unique and experimental original offerings. Simeon Halligan's Habit, falls into the latter of the two categories. The question is, how does it hold up against the competition?
Habit centres on a man named Michael (Elliot James Langridge), an employed twenty something drifting through life in a less than reputable part of suburban Manchester. Michael's life is changed forever when he meets a strange girl named Lee (Jessica Barden), who soon offers him a job in a dark and mysterious massage parlor.
The film is almost immediately captivating after stepping foot in its grimy and twisted interpretation of Northern England for a matter of minutes. This is easily spearheaded by its intriguing and incredibly watchable lead, who carries the audience through his strange journey as a damaged young man caught directly between generation X and the milllenials. Although, this potential is quickly squandered in favour of flashy visuals and gratuitous, stylised nudity.
The initial intrigue of a bizarre underground society of cannibals housed in seedy, underworld brothels, loses its novelty shortly after the concept is introduced. The film is also guilty of largely under-developing important plot threads that are quickly forgotten about, before being sporadically picked up at random in a later part of the film. Michael's family history is occasionally touched on, as well as his befuddling friendship with the caricature party-boy room mate, without successfully interweaving it with the main story. As a result, Habit often comes across as two entirely separate films, which makes the viewing experience far more tedious than it should have been.
Visually however, Halligan has crafted a beautiful look into his vision of Manchester, and its criminal underbelly. The murky and ominous tone is perfectly complimented by its muted colour pallet, and stunning cinematography. Unfortunately, this is the films most interesting aspect, as it largely fails to deliver on the intriguing promise of the first act. Despite both Langridge and Barden delivering layered and intense performances, they are ultimately not enough to save the film from its lazy writing. The final act's uninspired series of twists lack the shock factor they intend to achieve, but do provide some stunningly gory imagery.
Habit seems like a new age horror that could easily gain a cult following in the coming years. A film that would have easily earned a fan-favourite place on the culturally reviled 'video nasties' list, had it been released around 20 years ago. However, in this day and age horror fans are expecting far more from the genre, and an entertaining (but forgettable) hour and half might be as good as it gets for this cannibal caper.