This has been a good decade for movies about New York vampires. In the mid-'90s alone, there was Michael Almereyda's witty, ultra-stylish Nadja and Abel Ferrara's philosophical The Addiction. Joining those is Habit, starring writer/director Larry Fessenden. Of course, just about any good vampire film uses monsters as a surrogate for something else, usually as a time-tested figure of erotic transgression. Habit uses alcoholic self-destruction as the backdrop for an interestingly told urban vampire story. Following the death of his father and a split from his girlfriend, Fessenden (who looks like a cross between Kelsey Grammer and Vincent Gallo) begins a relationship with the mysterious Meredith Snaider. Though at first turned on by her tendency to draw blood during sex, and puzzled by her habit of showing up unannounced only at night, Fessenden soon finds his life falling apart as it becomes increasingly difficult for him to connect to his friends. Fessenden's decision to film Habit's first half almost entirely in a gritty, documentary-like style lends it a creepy plausibility that makes its more stylized second half's shocks that much scarier. Fessenden may not have reinvented the wheel here, but he has crafted an effective, memorable horror film that outdoes many of its flashier bloodsucking counterparts in much the same way Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer outdid many bigger-budget Hollywood thrillers.
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