Sister Marie Fenche wakes up one morning to find the corpse of a man in her bathtub. Unsure of what happened the night and whether or not she is the murder, Sister Marie finds herself involved in a seedy underworld of sex, drugs, and murder. Will her friend and fellow nun Jamie be able to help save Marie, or will Marie become lost in her own nightmare, unable to separate reality from fantasy?
I'll admit it. I'm like most guys, the concept of a (hot) nun that doesn't exactly have the morals of what nuns should have, is a tantalizing idea and fantasy. Since that isn't an uncommon fantasy or desire, it isn't a surprise that the infamous nunsploitation films were a popular subgenre from the 70's. This is initially what led to my interest in "Bad Habits"; it was being promoted as a throwback to that style of cinema and being inspired by staple titles like "Killer Nun".
The main part of the story of "Bad Habits" is about Sister Marie Fenche, a nun who does more to serve herself than God. She hits the dive bars and back alleyways, looking for a good time and something to distract herself from another insomnia driven sleepless night. She hooks up with a gentleman from a bar and then wakes up to find said person, dead in the bathtub with his throat slit. From this moment everything spirals out of control for Marie; her wild side lands her into trouble with a local drug dealer and his gang, the police become involved, and more dead bodies pile up. The problem is those who Marie thought were dead return again but as someone completely different. What does this mean, or better yet, what does this mean for Marie's mental stability?
There is a traditional storyline to follow in "Bad Habits" but most of the focus is put on the relationship between Marie and her fellow nun Jamie. A young and innocent girl who loves Marie enough that she allows herself to be corrupted by the world Marie lives in. However, the overall story of Marie trying to piece together her reality and solve the mystery that has become her current life, is not so traditional. While it almost pains me to say it since I think the man gets way more credit than he deserves -- "Bad Habits" reminded me a lot of David Lynch. Particularly his movies "Lost Highway" and "Blue Velvet". Mostly because of the eccentric world the characters live in and the movies ability to blur the lines of real and dream for both the main character and the viewer.
"Bad Habits" is a carefully constructed mind game; it's almost a puzzle that you have to put together while you're being given new pieces as you move along. At face value, there is that nunsploitation appearance of Sister Marie drinking, doing drugs, and having sex but at no point does it ever feel exploitive. In fact the relationship between Marie and Jamie is more in the vein of eroticism than that of sleaze. It comes off this way for a number of reasons, in particularly the openness and surrealism of the movie's nature. Also because it is a very well made and stylized mystery-thriller that keeps you going with all the twists and turns. Once you think you've got the story figured out, Dominic plays with psychological parts and makes you guess as to what the truth is even more.
The good news for some, while bad news for others is that Dominic and DANK films don't cater to the lower end of the movie goer spectrum. They don't explain every little detail so everyone can keep up. For me, so much occurs with openness, I'm not quite sure what it all meant after it was over. Assuming that there was even a definitive answer to begin with. What I can tell you is that "Bad Habits" is an intelligent and very well made thriller, which takes you on one hell of a ride filled with sex and murder. There is an influence from Italian cinema but not quite in the way one would expect. There is an erotic nature to the movie but it isn't done in an exploitive manner like it might be expected. It also borrows ques from giallies both in terms of story telling and the look of the movie. "Bad Habits" isn't without flaws because it is a part of the no-budget indie filmmaking world. These moments are minimal in nature and don't do much to detour the flow and overall quality, which is quite excellent, and makes "Bad Habits" a slick looking and well made modern-nunsploitation movie.