Rob G from Icons of Fright and Killer POV has been talking about 1995’s Habit since I started listening to the Killer POV podcast. I really wanted to watch it, but it was a little hard to find. It’s not streaming anywhere and the price point was just a little more than I wanted to pay for a single DVD. I was also a little nervous because I had recently disappointingly rewatched The Addiction from the same year. While The Addiction hadn’t been a favorite of mine when it had come out, I had respected it. Its rewatch made me feel like I was seeing a philosophy student’s first art film. Where you have trouble watching the screen because your eyes are rolling so hard at all the references to Sartre and Dante and quotes like, “Kierkegaard was right, there is an awful precipice before us; but he was wrong about the leap, there’s a difference between jumping and being pushed.”
Oh sweetie-pants, you are adorable.
So I started Habit with a bit of trepidation, but my fears quickly fell away. Habit has that same artiness and is one of those mid-90s films made by screenwriters that love their words a little too much. But it has an essence that elevates it beyond all of its individual pieces. As they walk around New York City it feels like you can almost smell the stench of garbage and exhaust. And you get a sense of the immediacy of the city, it’s rush and loneliness. How you build communities with your friends, that sometimes lift you up but also sometimes bury you in the mire. My early 20s are so tied into this period of time it felt almost uncannily like I was seeing my own memories of friends, cheap beer, cheap bars, my own sense of aimlessness.
And the sense of reality is at odds with the sensation of questioning what is and isn’t real. Is the primary character Sam a reliable narrator? Is he lost in his poor choices and addictions? Is he crazy, is he a victim, is this real? And it keeps you guessing until the final shot of the film. It’s a wild ride, and the honesty of every portrayal and actor is what keeps you on board. For me it was like revisiting my life 20 years ago, and it made me appreciate my now. Feeling really happy to have a sense of self that I didn’t have then, because I was still working on becoming the adult I was trying to be.