Thursday, October 29, 2009

My Mixtape Begins with “Runaway Train”

Habit (1996)
directed by Larry Fessenden
rating: 4 out of 5 cravats
on DVD from Netflix

If Halloween, for me, is best encapsulated by Meet Me in St. Louis, there is something at work in the holiday that a straight horror film like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre doesn’t accommodate. I prefer the supernatural, of course, but it isn’t just that; Meet Me in St Louis has nothing except mood, no ghosts but wind and fallen leaves. Horror films and Halloween, in other words, can diverge, and I am happy catching up with Trick 'r Treat and Rasputin: The Mad Monk well into November, long after I’ve left my jack o’ lantern on the curb for the garbageman.

Habit is as quiet and romantic as any horror film since Near Dark, and Habit is superstitious if not quite supernatural. Like Slacker, it follows interesting, self-sustaining twenty-somethings before hipsters killed them off for good. But more than a horror film or a generational relic, Habit is a great Halloween movie, one that captures the atmosphere of passing people in costume on the street of a city - parties are different, they don’t feel the same - on a surprisingly warm or surprisingly cool fall day, and getting caught up in the details around you: the angles of things, the play of light, the sound of footfalls and fabrics. I won’t do Larry Fessenden the disservice of ignoring the elephant in the room - that’s “A” for “Allegory” - but I like to think that heroin addiction led him to vampires, instead of the other way around. It’s a beautiful movie. Fessenden should be a movie star.