Larry Fessenden wrote, directed, starred in and edited Habit. Watching it feels like peering into his psyche, seeing it laid bare on the screen. If his movie is a confession, then my reaction to it is one too.
Fessenden play Sam, a man trying to stay afloat in the rough tides of alcoholism. His father has recently died, and his long-time girlfriend has left him. His days are spent preparing to drink, drinking and recovering from drinking. That he works at a bar isn’t doing anything to help his situation. It probably also doesn’t help that his best friend, Nick, always seems to have a bottle in his coat or a paper bag.
I recognize Sam. I’ve been him. Living at the far edge of functionality, worrying if people see the tremors in my hands, days wiped away by fugue, wishing I could change and knowing that I might not. I know Nick too. The happy enabler. The drinking buddy who likely knows what condition you’re in, but isn’t too worried about it.
One night, while at a party at Nick’s house, Sam meets Anna (Meredith Sainger), a beautiful, aloof brunette. He has to know that he is punching above his weight here. He’s missing a front tooth, is always disheveled, looks lost and slurs everything. Somehow, she is interested.
Anna is mysterious. She has a habit of vanishing and then turning up in unexpected places. They quickly develop a relationship of sorts. Mostly sex that culminates in Sam being injured and losing some blood. Anna is slightly possessive, but he doesn’t mind.
It takes Sam awhile to catch on that something is wrong. He feels weaker, sick, confused. In short, he feels things that could well be the effects of alcoholism. And yet, Anna keeps biting him.
Sam starts to believe, and maybe we do too, that he is dating a vampire.
Then again, maybe we shouldn’t believe that at all. After all, vampires don’t exist. Habit is set in the real world. The people that inhabit it are exactly the people you might know. As Martin Mathias says in George A. Romero’s Martin, “Things only seem to be magic. There is no real magic. There’s no real magic ever”.
Fessenden has crafted something special. Maybe Sam is under attack from a vampire but maybe he is under attack from his own addiction. It’s up to is to decide.
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