Review: HABIT (2017)

HABIT Poster

HABIT, the new film from writer/director Simeon Halligan (THE BLOOD LANDS, SPLINTERED) made it’s debut at last year’s Grimmfest, screening blocks away from where it was filmed. It’s a fitting location not just because it’s on the film’s home turf but because this is anything but a feel-good film.

Michael (Elliot James Langridge LET’S BE EVIL, NORTHERN SOUL) has issues. After seeing his mother die when he was a boy he’s never been able to get his life together. He bounces between the unemployment office and the bar. He’s at the bar drinking his latest check away when he meets Lee (Jessica Barden THE LOBSTER, THE END OF THE F**KING WORLD). She ends up crashing with Michael and his roommate. In return, she gets him a job with her uncle.

Uncle Ian (William Ash HUSH, THE LOCH ) runs a massage parlor which, big surprise, is a front for a brothel. Michael begins to get pulled into this world of organized crime and it looks like HABIT is going to be another British mob film. Then it takes a hard turn into Clive Barker territory as the whole operation is a front for something much darker indeed. Michael is about to learn the real definitions of good and evil. And the real meaning of family.

Based on the novel by Stephen McGeagh HABIT is a weird hybrid of genres that really gives no hint of where it’s going until it hits you. The artwork even does a good job of it, though the trailer and publicity photos that went round gave it all away. I’m not going to drop spoilers but the trailer is there if you want them. But trust me, you’re better off not knowing until you have to,

I will say once the film gets there it delivers the blood and gore to match its theme. There’s also a perversely erotic charge to a lot of it. As I said, HABIT is very reminiscent of the works of Clive Barker with its dingy, gritty urban setting and it’s approach to them and the horrors that lie just under its surface. Think TRAINSPOTTING, only they’re spotting THE MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN. Just as importantly it also keeps enough focus on its characters that it doesn’t lose itself in the gore. No matter how fucked up things get, we have somebody to relate to and keep us connected to the plot.

After a couple of average films, Halligan has really stepped up his game with HABIT. It’ll be interesting to see where he goes from here. He’s currently attached to THE BESIEGED which certainly sounds interesting.

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Jim Morazzini

Movie buff, gym rat and crazy cat guy