It’s hard to say exactly what Habit is about. We are introduced to our main character Michael (Elliot James Langridge) as he rushes to the job centre, all very Ken Loach. He then encounters the strange young homeless girl Lee (Jessica Barden) and is drawn into a hidden world of blood and death amidst her uncle Ian’s (William Ash) “massage parlour”. That’s about it, and the result isn’t very memorable or entertaining. It certainly could have been as Michael discovers that he has urges for human flesh and begins joining the employees in feeding frenzies, but nothing interesting happens with it. It’s not really discussed why he or anyone else has this hunger, it’s just something that some people have, and it comes with no real moral questioning or reluctance. There isn’t really a story, surprising when it is based on a novel by writer Stephen McGeagh, just a series of events with no reason to care. Nothing feels like it has any point or consequence.
Even things that should, like Michael’s discovery that he likes to eat people, mean next to nothing when Michael has little to no arc to speak of; he begins the film as a waster and a screw-up and he ends the film a waster and a screw-up but now with a bit of a body count, with nothing compelling about him as a character. If anyone has an interesting story worth telling here, it's Michael’s sister Mand (Sally Carmen) who still deals with the psychological aftermath of a childhood trauma that never seems to trouble Michael despite the film opening with him dreaming about it. Everyone else has one or two notes to them and are barely characters. Jessica Barden as Lee is simply a mysterious waif who you learn nothing about and despite some effort on William Ash’s part, Ian is a poor mentor figure for Michael’s new life. It also doesn't help that the feasts that the group engages only ever manage to be ludicrous rather than shocking or sexy, which is clearly what they're going for. It's hard to take anyone seriously when they're chomping on what looks like plastic femur.
The movie isn’t vague in a way that is intriguing and builds a sense of mystery, it’s vague in a way that seems to say that it hasn’t thought anything through and hopes that you won’t notice and instead think that it’s intriguing and builds a sense of mystery. There's no idea as to what we’re dealing with here. There’s a kind of seductive and secretive air to the feeders that would make you think “vampire” but they operate more as human cannibals. Are they a different species from humans? Do they have any kind of powers? Are they trying to go for some kind of The Hunger type blood/addiction thing? No idea, and tough luck if you want to know. There’s no sense of why or how, and these are things that you need to establish rather than hide behind blood and boobs.
The best thing about the film is the way that it is technically made and shot, giving urban Manchester an eerie and otherworldly feel. It shows that director Simeon Halligan does have talent - although maybe not in terms of screenwriting - but this is not the best display of it. Whatever Habit is, it’s not interesting, it’s not scary, and if you want to see boobs, blood, and fancy underwear, just spill some ketchup on an Ann Summers catalogue, you’ll get the same effect only in a fraction of the time.