"All you people are so scared of me. Most days I'd take that as a compliment. But it ain't me you gotta worry about now."
Pitch Black is the first entry in The Chronicles of Riddick series. After the release of its sequel, it has also been retroactively called The Chronicles of Riddick: Pitch Black.In the year 2678, the Hunter-Gratzner, with its crew and passengers in stasis pods, passes through the debris of a comet. The resulting damage badly cripples the ship, kills some of its crew and eventually causes it to crash land on a nearby planet. The remaining survivors find themselves in a harsh, barren landscape with constant daylight due to its three suns. A bounty hunter, William J. Johns, informs them that one of the passengers was a dangerous criminal named Riddick, and worse still, he's managed to escape during the crash.After a member of the group is killed investigating a cave, he’s the natural suspect and when eventually captured is kept under close watch. However, it soon becomes clear that not only is Riddick the least of their worries, they may actually need his help to survive.Considered the breakthrough performance of Vin Diesel, the movie was a sleeper hit despite its modest budget and was deemed successful enough to have a big budget sequel, which became The Chronicles of Riddick.
And This Is for...: Riddick cuts off all the lights on the ship prior to taking off, because he wants to kill as many of the creatures as possible when they gather around the ship. It's implied it's in honor of Fry.
Riddick: We can't leave... (beat) without saying good night...
Barrier-Busting Blow: After the suns go down and the planet is covered in darkness due to the eclipse, the Bioraptors roam free. The protagonists temporarily hide out in a storage compartment of the crashed ship. Imam sits down against a wall, but then an Alien pierces its claws through the hull right next to his head, almost impaling him.
Bat Scare: Subverted, because the flock of little chittering flyers turns out not to be harmless. At all.
Bittersweet Ending: Carolyn not only redeems herself by refusing to leave Jack and Imam, but then risks and loses her life saving the injured Riddick.
Bizarre Alien Senses: The monsters use echolocation. Shots of their P.O.V. depict this using monochromatic pixel-clouds that take the form of solid objects and show clearer resolution when they cry out.
Blood-Splattered Innocents: Shazza gets a surprise face-full of blood when Zeke shoots one of the crash survivors, whom he takes to be Riddick about to attack her. "Crikey!"
Conservation of Ninjutsu: Averted; Riddick can kill one creature just fine, but two of them damn near kill him (though he managed to slaughter both despite his injuries).
Contrived Coincidence: As mentioned in the Conveniently Close Planet entry, the ship happens to crash land on an inhabitable (sort of) planet, 22 months out from port, on the one day every 23 years that it has a solar eclipse, which allows thousands of carnivorous, dark-loving creatures to come to the surface and terrorize the crew.
Conveniently Close Planet: It's a good thing the interstellar freighter which was TWENTY-TWO MONTHS out from its port was passing so close to an inhabitable moon when the artificial pilot malfunctioned, isn't it?
A) Particularly at the time of the eclipse that happens every, what? 23 years? which leads to B) Depends on what you're calling 'inhabitable'.
Auto Pilot didn't fail so much as detected chunks of rock piercing the hull. Rocks tend to gather together in space, around things like planets. After 22 months, you'd think even a small miscalculation could make a big mistake, aside from space being really empty aside from some particularly dangerous parts you'd want to avoid.
Corrupt the Cutie: Riddick pulls a magnificent example with Carolyn at the end by encouraging her to leave Imam and Jack behind to come with him instead. He's practically nice about it, being helpful by telling her he will leave her, and recognizing how difficult it must be but that nobody would blame her. She breaks down in front of him and he gets even nicer, encouraging her like a small child. One would think he's nothing but a Magnificent Bastard but it's likely he very much likes Carolyn.
Darkness Equals Death: The film was designed from the ground up to utilize this, and every single death in the movie did in one way or another.
Death Seeker: Subtly hinted at with Riddick. That trait is (mostly) ditched in later incarnations.
Dirty Coward: Johns pretends to be a brave, upstanding man of the law at first, but is eventually revealed as a cowardly, self-serving junkie mercenary. He steals all the morphine so Owens has to die in agony. After the aliens come out during the eclipse, he stays back and lets the others investigate even though he's the only one with a gun, uses Jack as an excuse to hide his own fear, and is prepared to kill Jack and use her as bait to distract the creatures, causing Riddick to kill him.
Does That Sound Like Fun to You?: Riddick gives this speech to Jack after she asks about his eyes. It's subverted in The Chronicles of Riddick when, due to Retcon, she finds out that he was pulling her leg.
Dying Moment of Awesome: Paris. He drinks some wine, then breathes on his lighter to make it flare up, as one last "fuck you" to the creatures before they tear him apart.
Elephants' Graveyard: The survivors of the crash stumble upon a graveyard of giant extinct aliens. Imam even compares it to an elephant graveyard. Riddick is hiding there.
Endless Daytime: The planet the protagonists crashland on orbits three suns, such that it is always sunlight except once every 22 years, when the three suns line up and are simultaneously eclipsed.
Even Evil Has Standards: Played with. It's left ambiguous as to whether Riddick refuses to kill the teenage Jack and instead ghosts Johns on moral grounds because he crossed a line, or simple opportunism. His second option gives Riddick control of the group, revenge, and a target off his back. He later rescues Jack yet again, but leaves her to die just as quickly.
Eye Scream: Johns shoots morphine by injecting it into his eye socket. Cole Hauser, the actor who played Johns, stated in the commentary that he was inspired to do this by a person he once saw shooting up through his tear duct.
Final Girl: The woman who seems most likely to be the final girl is killed off only a few minutes before the movie ends, though the fact that she tries to sacrifice the passengers of the ship she was piloting early in the film hints at her redemptivedeath. The only characters to survive the movie are ironically the ones most likely to die in another slasher flick: the pacifist black man; the teenage girl who pretended to be a ''boy'' for the first half of the movie and has just reached sexualmaturity; and Riddick, the Villain Protagonist, who survives due to Executive Meddling that turned out to be very profitable. This approach is arguably what sets the film apart and part of why the sequel fails to deliver the same emotional punch. Pitch Black is a survival movie in space that subverts character expectations; The Chronicles of Riddick tries more to be straightforward Star Wars.
Functional Addict: Implied to be the case with Johns, who steals morphine from the medkit and injects it into his eyesocket, possibly to avoid leaving visible needlemarks.
Imam: Because you do not believe in God does not mean God does not believe in— Riddick: Think someone could spend half their life in a slam with a horse bit in their mouth and not believe? Think he could start out in some liquor store trash bin with an umbilical cord wrapped around his neck and not believe? Got it all wrong, holy man. I absolutely believe in God... and I absolutely hate the fucker.
Shazza, who gets ripped in half and carried off still screaming by a swarm of juvenile Bioraptors.
Heroic BSOD: When Riddick tries to make Fry leave Imam and Jack behind on the dead planet or he'll leave all of them she calls him out on his manipulation, but breaks down into an unresponsive, crying mess in front of Riddick when she realizes he's dead serious, torn between trying to save herself or die trying to save the others.
He Will Come for Me: Jack says "He's not coming back, is he?" when Riddick leaves Jack and Imam in the cave.Zigzagged when Riddick WAS going to leave them to die, but Fry convinces him otherwise. Their return prompts Jack to say, "Never had a doubt!"
Horde of Alien Locusts: The flying Bioraptors have apparently driven all life on the rest of the planet to extinction, to the point that they start killing off and eating each other en masse by the end.
Imam offers to pray with Riddick, but Riddick explains that he has nothing but loathing for God. Iman says that even though the circumstances are grim, He is with them nonetheless. Later, when it starts raining which will make the flares protecting them from the aliens go out, Riddick cynically remarks "So where the hell's your God now?" And even later, when Riddick goes back with Fry to save Jack and Imam, Iman states "There is my God, Mr. Riddick."
The scenes at the skiff. Riddick tries to convince Carolyn to abandon Imam and Jack. Once she forces him to go back for them and they've returned to the skiff, it's Imam and Jack who quietly urge Carolyn to leave the fallen-behind Riddick.
It's a Small World After All: The ship crashes on the planet, conveniently within walking range of the settlement, though it was intended as an aversion. Ken Wheat, the original writer of the film with his brother, Jim, explained that in the first draft of their script The Ship had detected the Settlement and tried to land near there so as to be near an area where there might be supplies.
Jerkass Has a Point: Carolyn is outraged to find out that Johns is a morphine addict when her copilot died in pain without relief. Johns states that the entire reason he's an addict in the first place is because of a piece of a shiv Riddick left right next to his spine that causes him nearly constant pain. He can still feel it rubbing against his spine and shows the wound to Carolyn.
Johns:"You feel that? Riddick did that. He went for the sweet spot and missed."
No Periods, Period: Averted. Riddick claims the reason the creatures are hunting them so doggedly is because "Jack" is "bleeding".
Not Me This Time: When the crew discovers Zeke's body, Riddick appears out of nowhere, and is immediately captured and accused of having killed him. Riddick admits that he has killed a few people, but Zeke wasn't one of them... which leads to the crew finding out about the Bioraptors.
Opening Monologue: The film opens with the crew of the Hunter Gratzner in stasis in deep space. The captured Riddick notes that his brain —or at least the animalistic side— is still awake, and asserts the situation in voiceover, surveying the rest of the crew and his plans for escape.
Pass the Popcorn: A more sadistic example, where Riddick is seen casually drinking some liquor while watching another man get gunned down by a Zeke, who thought the innocent man was Riddick.
This almost happened to Riddick. In the original script, Riddick was supposed to die instead of Fry. Executive Meddling put a stop to that, since The Chronicles of Carolyn Fry would not have made for a decent sequel.
Keep in mind, it was redemption for Carolyn, since she almost sacrificed her crew to save herself at the start of the film.
Riddick Is About To Shoot You: Some posters and DVD covers. Rather odd, considering he doesn't wield a handgun at any point in the film, and the only firearm he ever carried was the one he took from Johns when he released him and gave back barely a minute later.
Sherlock Scan: Riddick spends the first half of the movie doing nothing but this, first predicting the types of people on the ship, then accurately describing just how the original inhabitants of the moon didn't make it offworld. He is also able to deduce that the creatures have a blind spot from analyzing a dead one.
Sinister Shiv: Riddick uses a sharpened piece of metal obtained from a crashed spaceship as his shiv of choice, both for killing and for personal grooming.
Sleeper Starship: The film begins with the crew and passengers on a long-distance ship in hibernation. In a bit of unusual flair with the concept, the Anti-Hero (and narrator) Riddick is awake in his pod, and introducing the rest of the cast by smell.
[After Fry's death] No scream, Riddick thought numbly. No cry. No final words. Nothing but the rain — and a pitch black universe.
Too Dumb to Live: Paris, in a fit of blind panic after a creature swoops on the group, screws over everybody by scrambling away, pulling out the battery powering the glow-stick type lights... including the ONLY source of light around his own torso. Karmic Death ensues.
Took a Level in Badass: In later films, Riddick is pretty much unstoppable in combat. In this film, Riddick's a great fighter, but he's mortal enough that Johns (a sleep-deprived meth-head) is able to put up a decent fight against him, at least briefly. Chronicles Riddick would have steamrolled over Johns in a couple seconds.
Tuckerization: The Hunter-Gratzner is named after effects technicians Ian Hunter & Matthew Gratzner, founders of New Deal Studios (Who would go on to do the sequel).
Paris: Paris P. Ogilvie. Antiquities dealer. Entrepreneur.
Riddick: Richard B. Riddick. Escaped convict. Murderer.
Villain Protagonist: Riddick is a much darker character in this film than in subsequent movies (where he's more of an Anti-Hero), partly because Pitch Black is the story of his redemption. While the first half treats him more as an antagonist, Riddick's opening monologue and the increasing focus on him for the latter half make it quite clear that it's as much his story as Carolyn's. He's introduced as a murderous criminal, and does little to dispel it. He's utterly opportunistic throughout the story, sociopathically indifferent to all the death around him, and is fully ready to leave the other survivors behind on the alien planet when they're no longer of use to him. He even tries to corrupt Carolyn to make the selfish choice to join him and forget about the others, threatening to leave her to die if she doesn't. It's Carolyn's quest to ultimately be a better person that motivates his Heel-Face Turn by the end.
Weakened by the Light: The creatures are actually burned by any exposure to light. Additionally, Riddick's eyeshine treatment leaves him easily blinded by bright lights.
What You Are in the Dark: Both literally and figuratively; during the intro, Fry refuses to risk her life for others, and, after ditching the last of the survivors and reaching the shuttle alone, Riddick offers her the option to come with him or go back for Imam and Jack to die. Surprisingly, she not only goes back for Imam and Jack, but for Riddick when presented the choice.
Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Riddick likes children quite a lot, and they in turn seem fascinated by him - not just Jack, but Imam's younger acolyte as well. In fact he likes them enough that he refuses to kill Jack even though she's actually a girl on her period and attracting the monsters. He doesn't have any qualms about leaving them to save himself, though..
And a second time, retroactively, after killing a vicious alien in hand-to-hand combat:
Riddick: Did not know who he was fuckin' with!
You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Johns constantly warns the others that if they give Riddick the opportunity to betray them and escape the planet by himself, he'll leave them all behind to die. They delay bringing all the power cells to the skiff until the last minute, but they held off too long and the aliens wake up. He's proven right, since as soon as Riddick gets the chance, he steals the cells and traps the other survivors in a cave, planning to take off alone. Carolyn's willingness to sacrifice herself for the other two motivates him to go back and rescue them.