Bella Thorne has been acting since the tender age of nine. Thorne’s career has been an eclectic one, the young actor moving from The OC and Dirty Sexy Money to Disney Channel show Shake it Up with the occasional stop off in horror territory with parts in the Scream television show and Netflix’s The Babysitter films. In recent years Thorne has progressed from working purely in front of the screen, to spending time behind-the-scenes in roles such as producing. Thorne’s latest producing project is Habit.
Co-written by Janell Shirtcliff and Libby Mintz, and directed by Shirtcliff, Habit throws class-A drugs, nuns, murder, and a Jesus fetish into the mixing bowl, to create an independent thriller with the spirit of the movies of the nineties. Traces of Freeway, True Romance, Pretty Persuasion, and Highway are visible from the outset. Habit has that slightly dirty sheen of America’s underbelly, whilst still keeping the characters attractive enough to please the eyes. Stylistically, Habit pushes further into the nineties aesthetic and is as close to Tony Scott’s sunshine scorched True Romance as they come. Shirtcliff even follow’s Scott’s lead by including a Billy Idol needle drop (of the excellent ‘Eyes Without a Face’).
It’s not the first modern film to throwback to the nineties era of crime thrillers, 68 Kill was a recent example at how to do it well, which still injected some freshness by adding a heavy veil of dark humour. Habit also tries to blend in plenty of profanity-laced humour, however it doesn’t quite hit in the same way as in Trent Haaga’s picture. Shirtcliff seems to operate under the mantra that extreme events leave an impression and so our villain of the piece is Dr. Evil level over-the-top with their methods of dispatch, which inevitably makes Habit come across as a little bit silly.
For those that are familiar with some of Bella Thorne’s recent movies such as Asassination Nation and Infamous, it will become quickly apparent why the star chose to get involved here. Habit acts almost as a bridge between the two films and places Thorne into yet another role as a ‘poor white trash’ young woman with a potty mouth and appetite for drink, drugs, debauchery, and danger. Thorne clearly relishes playing these damaged, but empowered female characters, and in Mads, Thorne has found another intriguing, if polarizing, role. With the part being similar to a few of Thorne’s past on-screen counterparts, it’s not a stretch for the talented actor, but Thorne sells it once again.
Sadly the same cannot be said of all of Thorne’s cast mates. Andreja Pejic and Libby Mintz are charismatic and entertaining as Mads’ BFF and co-conspirators, but the criminal portion of the cast leave something to be desired. The worst offender is Bush frontman Gavin Rossdale, who stars as a washed up actor-turned-drug-dealer. The delivery of lines is wooden and stilted, and there’s zero chemistry between Rossdale and Thorne, which makes certain plot aspects difficult to swallow.
Habit has some great intentions, but some wobbly plotting and wooden cast members let it down. It’s another interesting turn from Thorne, and the actor’s involvement as producer demonstrates a keen eye for an intriguing project.
Religion and drugs collide in this throwback to the nineties crime thriller that, although glossy and entertaining for a relaxed watch, doesn’t have enough to truly draw the viewer in.
Habit will be available on Digital Download from 22nd November and can be pre-ordered here.