As an overwrought, overacted drama, Kill the Poor is negligible. Joe (David Krumholtz, who played a memorable elf in The Santa Clause 2), a yackety, intense young Jewish guy, moves with his pregnant wife into a Lower East Side squatter tenement circa 1982. And there he struggles, in a yackety, intense Jewish-guy way, to make sense of all the junkies, hoodlums, deadbeats, and incessantly colorful, quarrelsome ethnic neighbors in his face — incessantly colorful as only an indie script could envision. One’s a drag queen, one’s a grungy slut, etc. Can utopian ideals survive such a mugging by reality?
As a low-budget DV movie project backed by high hopes and hip production support, though, Kill the Poor is a specimen misfire. Working from an out-of-tune script by Daniel Handler (much more mellifluous in his guise as Lemony Snicket) based on a novel by Joel Rose, TV director Alan Taylor (The West Wing, Oz) demonstrates that quick-and-easy DV moviemaking isn’t so easy after all.