MANCHESTER’S annual horror film long weekend is back. Kicking off with a local treat, the world premiere of Habit, a socio-thriller/gory romp that is sure to leave audiences jaw-dropped.
Noel Gallagher’s brash, boyish, smirking wit. Peter Kay’s broad, happy-go-lucky tongue. Sir Fergie’s charm. The Mancunian accent isn’t often seen as menacing, but William Ash as Habit’s pimp/sadist/father figure, Ian, pulls it off wonderfully. He takes a wonderfully over the top figure, complete with greying, Britpop hair, and drags him into the real, brutal, beautiful world of Manchester.
Filmed on location in Salford and Manchester, watching director Simeon Halligan’s undefinable film take its many twists and turns whilst sat in a cinema just minutes away from some of the locations gives an additional bite to an already fantastically engaging, gorgeously shot story.
An adaptation of Stephen McGeagh’s novel of the same name, Habit begins with almost Loachean levels of social realism, dealing with depression, addiction, alcoholism and other harsh, urban realities – until it lurches violently into another, altogether more fantastical, yet no less believable direction. It’s almost a British answer to From Dusk Till Dawn, and it pulls the rug with equal relish.
To say much more would be to spoil a wonderful series of twists, turns and surprises that are performed as beautifully as they are shot; the film owes equal debts to its cinematographer, James Swift, it’s cast – including the standout Jessica Barden (Penny Dreadful) – and it’s razor sharp script as it does the cityscape of Manchester itself. From the neon drenched Northern Quarter to the grey skies above Salford’s dingiest corners, the film does not set a foot wrong in its location choices.
Halligan deserves special credit for crafting such a cast of likeable and interesting – yet deeply flawed – characters whom the audience will find themselves sympathising with despite their gaping character problems.
Standout sequences include a bloody orgy, some hauntingly well written scenes about depression and the hilariously accurate take on a Mancunian night out. Yet none of these compare to the minutes after the film, where the audience can finally relax, sit back and contemplate the rip roaring, funny, brutal allegory they’ve just absorbed.