Your fetish for slumming it is really getting to me,” declares one character to another at the beginning of Urchin. That’s pretty much how the viewer feels about John Harlacher’s aggressively low-budget movie, which was shot illegally in various New York subway stations and tunnels. This pointless exercise in subversion is set in Scum-City, an underworld ruled by an old man called The Old Man. The action veers back and forth between the adventures of The Kid, a disaffected nine-year-old who kills with impunity and in a variety of too-cute ways (electrified forks, water guns filled with acid), and Goliath, who hacks up bloody phlegm as he beheads nearly everyone he meets. Both are ostensibly on a quest for their mythical homeland, but neither seems particularly engaged in the journey. At its best, Urchin captures the eerie rhythm of the subway at night. At its substantial worst, with wooden acting and a plot so impenetrable it verges on the parodic, it’s unwatchable.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 20, 2007