Even before it was out of post production, Habit (not to be confused with the 2017 cannibal film of the same name), was stirring up controversy. According to Variety, it was the subject of a petition due to its casting. Specifically the casting of Paris, daughter of Michael, Jackson as a lesbian Jesus. Whether it was the product of legit outrage or a bit of marketing it certainly got Habit noticed. And since I’m reviewing it, it obviously didn’t stop its release. Although maybe it would have been better if it did rather than being responsible for it getting a distributor.
Mads (Bella Thorne, Masquerade, The Babysitter: Killer Queen) is a party girl with a Jesus fixation. She moves to Los Angeles and picks up a gig selling drugs for Eric (Gavin Rossdale, Constantine) a has been TV star. After a night of partying she and her roommates Evie (Libby Mintz, Fired Up!) and Addy (Andreja Pejic,The Girl in the Spider’s Web) wake up to find the drugs and the money missing.
When Eric turns up dead they have to think fast if they don’t want to become Queenie’s (Josie Ho, Open Grave, Dream Home). Mads comes up with a brilliantly original plan. They’ll disguise themselves as nuns and hide in a convent.
Habit wants to be an edgy version of the Whoopie Goldberg film Sister Act. Or Eric Idle’s Nuns on the Run. Unfortunately, Nude Nuns with Big Guns has more balls than this rehash of stuff Tarantino rehashed from directors who actually have an edge. Voice over narration, endless uses of the word “fuck”, when Queenie is first mentioned we cut to footage of her slapping people around and, of course, screaming “fuck” repeatedly. You get the idea.
To prove how edgy it is Habit gives us lots of shots of people doing drugs and having sex, (but not showing any naughty bits). We also get lots of shots of the girls in their habits smoking, drinking and talking about sex. Including sex with Jesus, who turns out to be female. How shocking!
It probably comes as no surprise that almost nobody in this film is even remotely likeable. Eric is about the only person you don’t immediately hate. And the film can’t resist taking a swipe at him in the news report of his death. Still, the casting of former rock star, (remember Bush?), Rossdale as the former TV star is the film’s one bright spot.
The three leads however are obnoxious at best and in the case of Mads much worse. She has no problem telling Eric the missing drugs are his problem, not hers then bedding him so she can steal his gun. This leaves him defenceless when Queenie and her goon Tuff (Jamie Hince) show up for her money. I get anti-heroes, amoral characters and charming rogues, but she is, to put it bluntly, a cunt.
Director Janell Shirtcliff and co-writer Libby Mintz try hard to make Habit shocking but fail miserably. And it’s for the same reason so many extreme horror films fall flat. They’re so busy trying to be shocking they forget to give us anyone we give a damn about, or even a coherent script. And as a result, we don’t care what they do, or what happens to them. By the time somebody gets decapitated with a switchblade while Billy Idol’s “Eyes Without a Face” plays on the soundtrack, I could barely bring myself to be impressed that they used practical effects.
Habit is easily one of the year’s worst films. It’s also, after Masquerade, a pretty good indication that Thorne’s career has passed its expiration date. Lionsgate will release Habit to Digital on August 20th. Blu-ray/DVD release follows on the 24th. You can check their website for more information.