Pedro Almodóvar’s Dark Habits has plenty of premise but little payoff. Yolanda (Cristina Sánchez Pascual), a nightclub singer and smack addict, watches her prick boyfriend overdose on heroin laced with strychnine and, fearing the police will blame her, flees and takes refuge at a convent called the Order of Humble Redeemers. The convent, however, is anything but angelic – the nuns running the place all have drug and/or S&M habits, and firmly believe that salvation comes through humiliation and degradation. “Very soon, this will be full of murderesses, drug addicts, prostitutes…just like before. Praise be to God!” says Mother Superior (Julieta Serrano), a dopehead who hopes that, by bringing in a fresh horde of social outcasts, the religious house’s holy women – all of whom sport ridiculous names like Sister Manure (Marisa Paredes), Sister Damned (Carmen Maura), and Sister Sewer Rat (Chus Lampreave) – will once again fulfill their calling. The convent is on the brink of closing down because its recently deceased benefactor’s wife, the greedy Marquise (Mary Carrillo), isn’t interested in giving money to the nuns, forcing Mother Superior to once again engage in secular vice by blackmailing the nasty old biddy. And vice, to be sure, is these women’s specialties. While Mother Superior satiates her heroin fixes and lusts after Yolanda, Sister Damned tends to her pet tiger, Sister Manure walks around zonked on acid (visualized with some delightfully cheesy Almodóvar effects), and Sister Sewer Rat secretly authors a phenomenally popular line of smutty romance novels. These characterizations form a rather rudimentary critique of the church, which is presented as hypocritically practicing exactly what it denounces. Like Buñuel, Almodóvar’s satire exhibits a genuine fondness for its wayward characters, and there’s no denying that despite the nuns’ numerous failings, Yolanda is nonetheless “saved” by film’s conclusion. Unfortunately, none of this is half as absurd as it might sound. The nuns are undergoing a spiritual crisis (mirrored by the convent’s crumbling walls), but their devolution into rampant drug use and sneaky sin is sluggishly handled by Almodóvar, who utilizes his trademark primary color palette to decent effect but whose flat compositions and clunky rhythm – made worse by the cast's subdued performances – render the film’s attempts at sacrilegious naughtiness inert.