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New York indie filmmaker Larry Fessenden wrote, directed, and stars in this 1997 tale of urban vampirism overlooked in the wake of two similar productions, Michael Almereyda's Nadja and Abel Ferrara's The Addiction. Less precious then the former and less pretentious than the latter, Habit is a modest, intelligent study of loneliness, addiction, and urban alienation. Fessenden stars as alcoholic hero Sam, a shabby, shaggy guy in a dead-end job who falls madly in love with a mysterious young woman (Meredith Snaider). She'll only see him at night, draws blood during ferocious, animalistic sexual encounters, and has a strange habit of disappearing, but when he suspects she's more than she appears, his life turns from romantic idyll to sinister nightmare. Fessenden makes an oddly charming lead with his crooked, broken-toothed smile and distracted demeanor, and Snaider is appropriately cryptic as she blows in and out of his life with nary an explanation. Shot in the streets of New York in a style that recalls John Cassavetes (a hero of Fessenden's), the picture periodically loses itself in side stories and long conversations, and Fessenden doesn't quite have the resources to make the jump from naturalism to supernatural. But at their best his low-budget special effects take on an eerie beauty, turning this indie bloodsucker into a compelling paranoid psychodrama. The DVD also features a making-of featurette directed and narrated by Fessenden.

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FLV5132 Habit DVD (1997/Larry Fessenden) $14.98 $12.95