Sunday, October 29, 2006

Habit

(1997) ***


Sam's having a rough month. Just before Halloween, he receives word that his father has died. Then he and his live-in girlfriend break up, somewhat acrimoniously. He's boozing heavily and every day, his shoulders are hunching just a bit more than yesterday.

It's on the downswing of his pendulum that he meets Anna at a friend's Halloween party in the Village. He's smashed when he meets her, but sober enough to feel her electrifying stare reach out for him, down into a place he hasn't been reached in a very long time.

She keeps him on the edge of his seat, always appearing from out of nowhere. She indulges a gritty erotic side to him he may have forgotten he ever had. She'll tug on his zipper in public places, like a park at night or, most naughtily, in the meds room at a hospital. Eerily, the reason they were at the hospital to begin with was to drop off an 8 year old boy they'd carried there in a taxi after he'd been hit by a car. Sam can't even get it up until after she bites him on the forearm and begins sensually sucking at the wound.

This isn't an isolated (or first-time) incident. Every time Anna seduces Sam, she bites him, drawing blood. Sam's only mildly alarmed by this at first. The sensation, coupled with the best sex of his life, is so potent, he goes along for what seems, at first, just a markedly wild ride.

Gradually though, his discomfort begins to rise. He begins to suffer from spells of nausea. He's got more of a hunger for meat. A friend of his who also has a new girl in his life he's excited about begins to show up at work seeming more and more out of it, before he disappears completely one day.

Growing desperate, he summons his closest friend, Nick, who earnestly explains to him that his problem goes no farther than that he just had a bad break up and his dad just died. This soothes Sam, mildly, but the comfort lasts for only moments after Nick leaves, when Sam notices the body of his cat lying in the other room, its stomach ripped out and some of its entrails ground into the floor.

I wound up watching the first half of this movie twice. This turned out to be pretty fortunate. The first time I watched it, I was distracted by the lead male's resemblance to Dana Carvey with one of his front teeth knocked out, and by the lead female's resemblance to Ralph Macchio. Actually, she's got a little bit of Jami Gertz to her too, making her, essentially, the love child of the two kids from Crossroads.

The second time I watched it, I was feeling a bit more fair. These aren't glamorous people, after all. Sam's an erstwhile artist whose only job now is as the manager of a dingy pub. His life has been a series of disappointments and depressions. Against that, Ralph Macchio and her lust are a tonic.

As a person he's pitiful, and he's played with substance by Larry Fessenden -- also the director. Anna, despite her dismal aesthetics, is played with believable radiance by Meredith Snaider -- her only role so far. Her smile is warm and excited and her gaze is direct and sincere. Sam melts when he's with her and if you're not distracted by her schnozz, you can't miss why.

It's not a scary film. Actually, it's a pretty quiet film. Very little soundtrack, except for when there's blood on the floor. If it weren't for all the vampirism, it'd play exactly like an indie film about a break-up. Not a Jarmusch, by any means, but certainly watchable and engaging.

Of course, it'd have been way better without all those flannel-philosophical discussions about the media vacuum and bankrupt social morality --- (yawn) Get a job.

Also notable as the first horror film I've seen this year that spans two holidays -- Halloween and Thanksgiving. There's some surplus holiday afoot here. So whatever reservations I had about according Holiday Horror status to Boogeyman have been nullified. Yessss!

3 comments:

Summerisle said...

Never heard of this one. There really aren't many exceptional vampire movies but it's always nice to see hear about new ones.

(chant): LEPRECHAUN V!

LEPRECHAUN V!

LEPRECHAUN V!

Octopunk said...

IN THA HOOD!

IN THA HOOD!

IN THA HOOD!

JPX said...

Yeah what gives, there are the other Leprechaun films? Get going newby!