I’m dead serious here when I say that if you have teenage kids that you fear are using drugs, show them Habitual. Writer/director Johnny Hickey used the real-life opioid crisis as inspiration for a horrifying morality tale which features a creepy abandoned asylum and bloody gruesome versions of plague doctor costumes, for good measure. It also takes place in Salem, MA, which is one of the spookiest places in America.
Habitual starts at a bar where a rave is taking place. Simon (Johnny Hickey) is wondering why no one is buying booze and finds out it’s because a kid named Blake (Stanley Bruno) is selling drugs to all the patrons. Simon confiscates the drugs and thinks the worst is over. He visits a good friend of his, Brett (Chris Tamburello), in the mental hospital. Brett mostly blathers incoherent nonsense, or maybe he doesn’t? Anyway, the next day, Blake and his crew come to Simon’s to reclaim Blake’s illicit substances. It doesn’t end well, and Simon’s daughter, Riley (Jaylee Hickey), has to call 911 for her father.
The crew, comprised of Blake, Ashley (Alley Doody), Kim (Dottie Daigle), Ray Ray (Brittany Baldi), Naomi (Sabrina Kennedy), Brittany (Emilee Fitzpatrick), Robby (Anthony Hoang), and Thomas (Brandon Cappiello), are on a mission to go to a huge rave called HABIT at an abandoned mental hospital. As soon as the group gets there, things start to go awry in the desolate, empty parts of the abandoned institution. These scenes are intercut with a lively rave that they are dying to get to.
“…on a mission to go a huge rave called HABIT at an abandoned mental hospital…things start to go awry…”
I have to admit that I feel like there were too many people in Blake’s crew. I feel like it could’ve been slimmed down to 5 friends, like in Scream or even fewer, so we could get more of a sense of who these characters are. However, the film is more reliant on plot and an overall morality tale than it is with specific characters. The person we get to know the most is Brett. He is a crazy, vigilante anti-hero who doesn’t go about spreading his message the right way by any means. That’s because he’s already a victim of what the group falls prey to. Habitual really redeems itself at the last minute when it is revealed that all of what we just watched was to tell us an unsavory truth about our country. Most horror films don’t declare their metaphors outright, but I think in the case of Habitual, it makes the proceedings more effective.
Habitual is full of the horror-trope good stuff in the meantime. Jump scares, evil growling voices, crab-walking possibly possessed people, and most importantly, tons of blood and gore. Also, the asylum on its own is totally creepy. Hickey found a gold mine of a location. Hickey weaves a great morality tale with this movie, but I think that next time he might want to scale down on the characters a little so he can build them up more. Other than that, I have confidence he could definitely make another decent horror movie that I would be interested to see.
So check out Habitual as part of your Halloween viewing with the ulterior motive of assuring your teenage children will never want to take drugs again for the rest of their lives. Even if you don’t need to do that, check out the film, it’s worth the watch.
"…tons of blood and gore. Also, the asylum on its own is totally creepy."