Dark Days follows a community of homeless New Yorkers living underground near Penn Station. The premise initially seems unbelievable. Living in constant darkness with vermin and loud passing trains doesn’t sound habitable. But we’re slowly shown the ways these people adapted. They used dogs to keep rats away, scavenged in the right places for edible food and set up traps to alert them to danger. Even in their bleak environment, you can’t help but respect the men and women who made it their home.
But the documentary wasn’t made to show the residents’ tenacity. Instead it’s a sharp critique of a government that failed them for so long. Director Marc Singer chose to focus on immersing the audience in this derelict world. The film is presented in black and white, devoid of any colour. With a few exceptions, no music accompanies the footage. The result is an uncomfortable wake up call, a reminder that even in first world countries many people still live in horrible conditions.
Highlights: For me the main highlight is that Dark Days ultimately has a good ending, which offers hope that this way of life will eventually become a thing of the past.