Projections - Movie Reviews

Dark Days Dark Days

The tunnel inhabitants of Marc Singer's noir documentary Dark Days don't classify themselves as homeless but survivors through the Amtrak underground railways where they have been able to utilize water and power from the Big Apple.

From a news broadcast, Singer was on his quest which took a greater hold on him than he could imagine and though stories appear somewhat disorientating, ala The Blair Witch Project the torment of these unique denizens has an absorbing power.  Ralph has been clean from crack for three years.  He is agonized from the rape and mutilation of his five year old daughter while he was incarcerated and he finds it a challenge to keep his dogs in a clean pen with a chain link fence.

One of his addict neighbors, Dee, saw the TV reports of the fire that killed her two kids as she pulls on her crack pipe.  Others have been messed up from the all-consuming habit which destroyed marriages and families.  Yet they press on each day, resurfacing for food in dumpsters.

Everyday life may get a bit redundant and it's hard to get to know the many tunnel residents well, but Dark Days provides a view of a harrowing, fascinating existence where cats are used to fight rats, people have become self-sufficient and look out for each other in the cold of the sunless tunnels with some needing to steal to stay alive.

A moody hip-hop jazz score from DJ Shadow builds on the gritty aspects of Dark Days as the end offers some remarkable light at the end of the tunnel in the form of Section 8 housing vouchers.  While the lack of hued shooting by the amateurs doesn't really display the Amtrak claustrophobia settings, the way these unified homemakers thrive underground deifies the indolence that is attached to many who have lost their pride.

Dark Days could have even been better if Singer's intentions would have been explained with enough narration to drive home his dramatic points with a deeper social effect.  It's a bit scary, too, that Amtrak has its own armed cops, but health and safety concerns finally show every now and then as social workers come through and sobriety and independence can rise from the depths of darkness.

Dark Days

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