Film Review: Habit

habit 2021When Quentin Tarantino burst on to the scenes in the 1990’s it wasn’t long before a number of filmmakers copied his style and so we got a lot of fairly insipid movies with gangsters delivering supposedly amusing monologues and shitty types who tried but failed to be effortlessly cool. Thankfully after a very long decade such movies dried up as audiences became fed up with them, but director Janell Shirtcliff has created a very pale imitation of his early work in what is one of the poorest films that has ever emulated the man.

What’s surprising is that it initially starts off fairly well, as a young girl called Mads delivers a monologue about her love for Jesus, and then we get to see her a few years later as a fucked up party girl (Bella Thorne) who is still filled with love for the lord. But after losing her job she agrees to start dealing drugs with two of her friends, buying them from out of work actor Eric (Gavin Rossdale, poor, but by no means the poorest here) and inevitably things spiral out of control and the big villain of the piece, Queenie (Josie Ho), is soon after them.

Queenie is one of those gangster types who can never just shoot someone dead and has to deliver a big, over the top speech before turning violent. In a film filled with some pretty dodgy acting Ho is astonishingly bad, I presumed this would be her debut appearance on the silver screen but she has 63 credits to her name, so I can only presume that Shirtcliff is responsible for telling her to go as far over the top as possible, but it’s so extreme that it is one of the oddest things I’ve ever seen, making Rossdale seem competent in comparison.

Without Thorne and the quite talented cinematographer Rain Li you could easily be tricked in to thinking this was a student film such is the nature of the embarrassing dialogue, and it’ll make you wonder if Shirtfell and her co-writer Libby Mintz have ever watched any films which weren’t turgid b-movies. Thorne’s character pops up to narrate the proceedings from time to time and pretty much everything she says is cringeworthy in the extreme, and her relationship with her two best friends feels forced and unrealistic.

The movie’s big selling point is that it’s a supposedly outrageous juxtaposition of sex and religion, but it will only shock either the extremely pious or the extremely young, maybe a five or six year old but not anyone older. Everyone else will either be laughing in disbelief at how awful this film is, that or they’ll be praying to the lord that it’ll be soon over with as despite only lasting eighty minutes it’s so tedious it feels like triple the time.

Alex Finch.
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