Above: MikeDaisey, T. Ryder Smith, Paul Willis.
“Horrible Child” is not a film. It is not theater. It is not a macabre campfire story. It is not even art. It is almost a poem — but it is not. I know what it is.
It is … hip-hop.
Hip-hop without what you’d call rappers. Hip-hop without attitude. Hip-hop without egos. Hip-hop without bling. Hip-hop by very, very, very white people. Just their very white heads, really, in a very black world, in black clothes, with black hair. Hip-hop of the avant-garde.
In short, “Horrible Child” is the cast’s parents’ nightmare of what their sons got mixed up in when they moved to New York to become actors.
It has a story, or at least the skeleton of a story, or is at least inspired by a story (or is at least, according to its web site, inspired by a photograph).
A bantering husband-and-wife-ish couple (longtime Offoffoff favorites Mike Daisy and T. Ryder Smith) recall how they gave birth to The Horrible Child, played by a bearded non-child, Paul Willis. It is likely that these are Horrible Parents, rather than the parents of a Horrible Child, but they get most of the face time so most of the story belongs to them.
When a sort of Horrible Child Exterminator is finally found, a Horrible Crime is impendingly committedor, alternatively, a Horrible Abomination is impendingly eliminated. Take your pick.
The point is not to judge but to enjoy. “Horrible Child” is not a morality play meant to challenge you but a word cartoon meant to tickle you. If you think, from this description, that this creation was made for you, then it probably was. Check it out.”
– Joshua Tanzer, offoffoff.com
“Horrible Child, Orphan of Wunderkind? A brave exploration of the limits and parameters of film-making, language, and the human experience, Horrible Child brings to the big screen a riveting hyperbole in which the torments and torrents of abuse of Everychild are writ large in musical Marx Brothers Minimalism. The seeds of our dysfunction are well sewn in this familiar fable, for we are all, each and every amongst us, truly Horrible children. Know thyself; see the film.”
– Winston Rice
Above, from top: Lila Javan and Lawrence Krauser line up a shot; Lawrence Krauser; Larissa Tokmatova and Lawrence Krauser discuss a scene; the hall windowsill.