Dark Days

"Very Good"

Dark Days Review


The best documentaries are films that submerge the viewer so completely in their subject one feels like one has been an eye witness when the credits roll. "Dark Days," which won three awards at Sundance 2000, does exactly that in depicting a world few people even know exists: a small shantytown community of homeless tunnel dwellers who live underground in New York City.

Filmmaker Marc Singer takes his single black-and-white camera deep inside cavernous Amtrack tunnels leading out of Penn Station and follows the lives of nearly two dozen inhabitants of this dank and dirty, pitch black realm. They're people who might have lived on the street or in shelters, but have instead built surprisingly homey, semi-permanent plywood huts in the concrete subterranean passageways just off the train tracks.

Many of them are addicts. Most are tortured souls (two are brought to tears recounting the deaths of their children). But each of them is humanized to an extraordinary extent by the unblinking eye of this picture, which tracks them through two years of survival and crises that includes a sweep by armed Amtrack police trying to push them back out into the streets.

It's easy to understand why they don't want to leave (some have called the tunnels home for a decade or more). "Wintertime I don't freeze, summertime I don't burn up," one resident explains. "The only thing we don't got is running water."

It's the truth. The denizens of this trash-littered tunnel community tap into the city's electricity with miles of extension cords to power lights, portable stoves, small refrigerators, space heaters and even TVs -- making their homelessness seem at times almost like a darker shade of normal. Some have even painted and hung drywall inside their shanties.

Singer, who lived underground himself while shooting the film, is granted such candid interviews and such complete access to these people's lives that even if it were not an adroit piece of filmmaking with an attention-grabbing style, "Dark Days" would still be engrossing to watch.

If there is one nagging fault with this film, it is that Singer is so close to the project that he doesn't realize he's left out a few simple but important details about these indigent kinsmen and the astonishing hidden world they've created.

We're never given any sense of how close these shanties are to the actual train tracks (not even by the use of sound) and the tunnel dwellers grow on the audience so much that when the film ends without any kind of where-are-they-now update, it's hard to not feel a little gypped.

These are not critical points, but they would have been easy to fix had the director taken a step back and looked at the movie with a fresh pair of eyes.



Dark Days

Facts and Figures

Run time: 94 mins

In Theaters: Friday 9th March 2001

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Fresh: 61 Rotten: 4

IMDB: 7.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: André Byman as Man

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

The latest adaptation of Agatha Christie's 83-year-old classic whodunit, this lavish, star-studded film is old-style...

Paddington 2 Movie Review

Paddington 2 Movie Review

The first Paddington movie in 2014 is already such a beloved classic that it's hard...

A Bad Moms Christmas Movie Review

A Bad Moms Christmas Movie Review

Everyone's back from last year's undemanding adult comedy, plus some starry new cast members, for...

Brawl in Cell Block 99 Movie Review

Brawl in Cell Block 99 Movie Review

Filmmaker S. Craig Zahler brought a blast of offbeat creativity to the Western genre two...

The Death of Stalin Movie Review

The Death of Stalin Movie Review

Fans of the film In the Loop and the TV series Veep will definitely not...

Call Me By Your Name Movie Review

Call Me By Your Name Movie Review

Set in northern Italy in the summer of 1983, this internationally flavoured drama is a...

Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review

Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review

The most riotously enjoyable Marvel movie yet, this action epic benefits hugely from the decision...

Advertisement
Breathe Movie Review

Breathe Movie Review

While this biopic has the standard sumptuous production values of a British period drama, it's...

The Snowman Movie Review

The Snowman Movie Review

With a cast and crew packed with A-list talent, this film seems like it should...

The Party Movie Review

The Party Movie Review

Comedies don't get much darker than this pitch-black British movie, written and directed by Sally...

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha) is on his way to becoming the new Woody Allen, which...

6 Below Movie Review

6 Below Movie Review

Based on an astonishing true survival story, this film is subtitled "Miracle on the Mountain",...

Mother Movie Review

Mother Movie Review

Darren Aronofsky doesn't make fluffy movies, and has only had one genuine misfire (2014's Noah)....

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

It's been 35 years since Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic, which was set in 2019....

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.