The darkest corners of Manchester’s Northern Quarter come to life in a haze of neon lights and rain soaked streets. HABIT, directed by Simeon Halligan, is a tense, slow burning horror that smothers us with a blanket of unease. The film feels unequivocally British, which provides it with a large part of its charm. From the tree-lined winding road in the opening sequence to the bustling streets of Manchester’s night-life, the setting is the perfect companion to the underlying tension that lies at the very heart of this film. Never revealing too much at once, the film takes its time in revealing the darkest secrets kept by our characters, creating an enticing watch from beginning to heartbreaking end.
Michael (Elliot James Langridge) is unemployed and unenthused. Haunted by his troubled past, he spends his time collecting dole money to squander in clubs and pubs. A chance encounter at the job centre introduces him to Lee (Jessica Barden). A bold and vivacious teenage girl who seemingly has nowhere to go, she inserts herself into his life, with little to no objection from Michael, and the two quickly become friends. Michael accompanies Lee on a visit to her Uncle Ian’s (William Ash) massage parlour, Cloud Nine, to collect some money. Ian takes an interest in Michael and in turn, Michael takes an interest in one of the girls in the parlour who offers him a ‘special deal’ if he wants to returns to the club later that evening. Troubled by an argument with his sister, Michael returns to the club only for his evening entertainment to be abruptly interrupted by a large man bursting through the door, blood gushing from a large gash across his neck. When he explains to Lee, she tells Michael to keep it quiet and Ian offers him a job as doorman in a bid to make him a part of their world. Michaels feverish dreams hint at the horrors about to unfold as HABIT takes a dark and sinister turn into the enticing underworld of Manchester’s mysterious back-alley clubs.
The film offers some stunning performances from a fantasitc and widely established array of English actors. Roxanne Pallett exquisitely presents to us the charmingly confident and wildly seductive Alex whilst William Ash brings charisma and authority to the role of wheeler-dealer Ian. After a slow building start, HABIT transforms into gory feast of blood, sex and cannibalism. Tantalising orgies fuelled by blood lust burst onto the screen and Michael must make a decision between his new family and his old one. A brooding fever dream in which kitchen sink realism slowly drowns in lovecraftian grue – HABIT brings dark Northern humour and refreshingly original flair.