Pitch Black – USA, 2000

Pitch Black (known as The Chronicles of Riddick: Pitch Black in later home media releases) is a 2000 science fiction thriller feature film directed by David Twohy. The film stars Vin Diesel, Radha Mitchell, Cole Hauser and Keith David.

Plot:

Dangerous criminal Richard B. Riddick (Diesel) is being transported to prison in a cargo spacecraft. When the spaceship is damaged by comet debris and makes an emergency crash landing on an empty desert planet, Riddick escapes. However, when predatory alien creatures begin attacking the survivors, Riddick joins forces with the crew to develop a plan to escape the planet.

The film’s total budget has been estimated to be US$23 million. Despite mixed reviews from critics, it was a sleeper hit, grossing over US$53 million worldwide. It has since developed its own cult following, particularly around the antihero Riddick. A sequel, The Chronicles of Riddick, was released in 2004.

In the distant future, the transport ship Hunter-Gratzner, and its crew and passengers in cryo-stasis chambers, pass through a comet’s tail while on autopilot. Debris from the comet rupture the hull and kill some of its crew, including the captain. The remaining crew is awakened and docking pilot Carolyn Fry (Radha Mitchell) and her co-pilot, Greg Owens (Simon Burke), awake in time to attempt to land the ship on a nearby planet. Fry wants to dump the passenger compartment to save the ship and herself but Owens stops her.

The ship crashes on the surface, killing Owens. Fry joins with the surviving passengers, including the Muslim Imam (Keith David), a young boy named Jack (Rhiana Griffith), and William J. Johns (Cole Hauser), who claims to be a cop. Johns discovers that another passenger, the convict Richard B. Riddick (Vin Diesel), has escaped, and implores the others to help find him.

As they explore the planet, they find it is surrounded by three suns, keeping it in perpetual daylight. They come upon an abandoned human geological research settlement, with supplies of water and a spacecraft they can use to escape the planet, though lacking power cells. They prepare to return to the crashed ship to collect its power cells.

When one survivor is killed exploring a nearby cave, Riddick is discovered and captured by Johns. Fry investigates the cave, looking for the body, but instead discovers several living indigenous creatures, vicious winged hunters that can only survive in the dark. Fry believes that the population of the settlement was killed by the creatures, and orders Riddick released, believing him to be a far lesser threat than the creatures.

Riddick reveals that Johns is actually a mercenary for hire, and is being brought in by him for a bounty. As they are about to leave the settlement, they discover that the planet undergoes a month-long eclipse every twenty-two years, due to start shortly…

Reviews:

‘Just as Alien‘s shadowy mise en scène tantalised us with glimpses of its monster, Pitch Black initially holds back from showing us its predatory creatures (the first victim is killed off screen). Indeed, this stock horror device, which plays on our desire to see all against our wish to be spared the gore, is given a twist by the nocturnal nature of the attacking aliens.’ BFI Sight & Sound

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