'New York is a great city - if you can stay on top of it.' In the pitch black only the rustle of rats feet and dripping water can be heard as the nervous film crew begin their journey to find New York's subway community. It's a dangerous mission in a place without law. 'Down here. You feel fears you never knew existed'. The film makers delve deeper and deeper, searching for signs of life. Torchlight illuminates fading graffiti, a discarded suitcase and the distant roar of rushing trains. Finally a dark figure reveals himself and we follow him to the mole community.
Many of New York's tunnels and stations have became obsolete and have become the home of the city's dispossessed. It's a paranoid community who've left the comforts of the world above to get away from people. 'We don't like intruders. In fact, from this emergency exit, down to the train station is my territory, and I watched you guys coming' Gina's husband runs the community. A veteran with a degree in computer science, Gina moved into the tunnels 7 years ago. 'I can see you but you can't see me', Gina declares as she stops to push a stray tissue through a grate to hide evidence of her presence.
For James, an addict who spent 16 years in jail, the tunnels are a place where he would 'be dead and stinking' before the police could find him. 'We're all out here together man'. It's the law of the jungle down here and members often turn on each other; If I ask someone to identify themselves, and they don't, I'll knock their lights out. You could kill a man, stuff him somewhere and never be found.'
'Right in here, I killed a little girl', Bertrum confesses, also a former inmate who shot his sergeant in the head. But the tunnels have their own code of conduct as well and often 'it's more of a crime to steal from each other, than it is to murder someone.'Whether hiding out from the law, homeless or suffering from a broken heart, the mole people of New York are running away from something. In the dark and frightening tunnels they find a home where society and their troubles cannot reach them.
Voices in the Tunnels is at the same time an example of the best of investigative documentary and also a powerful comment on the social underbelly of US society. Enthralling and often shocking.