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vampire movie? Admittedly, I wasn't too enthusiastic about viewing this one, the tale of, yes, a vampire. It's a good thing I did, though. Courtesy of the multi-talented Larry Fessenden, HABIT turned out to be one the best films of 1997, accomplishing what so many others have failed to achieve: breathing new life into a tired genre.

The Package
Writer/director/editor/star Larry Fessenden has been around for quite some time, having created such NYC-set no-budgeters as HOLLOW VENUS and NO TELLING. The experience has clearly paid off with HABIT, not only in the extremely deft filmmaking, but also in Fessenden's acting. His performance as Sam, the all-purpose loser, is one of the film's most effective aspects. You (like me) may have missed this film when it played its extremely brief theatrical run, but it's out on video/DVD now, so you have no more excuses…see it!

The Story
     Thankfully, HABIT'S storyline doesn't play out in a traditional manner. The first half of this nearly two-hour work is essentially a character study focusing on Sam, a thirty-something restaurant manager and full-time alcoholic. Recovering from a failed relationship, he meets the strange and unpredictable Anna. Her quirks include unexplained disappearances and a yen for drinking blood. Naturally, Sam begins to suspect that she may be a vampire. Worse, he thinks she may have infected him...

The Direction
     Until HABIT, the combination of New York City and vampires has been a deadly one, always seeming to bring out the artiest in filmmakers (as in near-unwatchable pretension fests like NADJA and THE ADDICTION). While subverting convention at every turn, HABIT is most definitely not an art film, but a horror movie with all the trimmings.
So assured is Fessenden's direction that the story's colossal shift in tone…from the seemingly mundane world of the first half to the shadowy and hallucinatory one of the second…never feels the slightest bit forced. In addition, the jittery camerawork and near-constant jump cuts seem entirely appropriate. Mention must also be made of the judicious use of real NYC locations. Reminiscent at times of the early films of Martin Scorsese, Fessenden nevertheless manages to imbue the sleazy tenements and dark alleyways with an ambience all his own.

Vital Statistics

Glass Eye Pix

Director/Writer/Editor: Larry Fessenden
Producer: Dayton Taylor
Cinematography: Frank DeMarcoCast: Larry Fessenden, Meredith Snaider, Aaron Beall, Patricia Coleman, Heather Woodbury, Jesse Hartman

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