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Film / Pitch Black

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"You're not afraid of the dark, are you?"

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 Richard B. Riddick, and worse still, he's managed to escape during the crash.

After a member of the group is killed investigating a cave, Riddick’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.

This film provides examples of:

  • Abnormal Limb Rotation Range: Riddick does this by dislocating both his shoulders in order to escape from his restraints.
  • Admiring the Abomination: Upon seeing the huge swarms of vicious night-dwelling flying monsters emerging from underground, Riddick can only whisper: "Beautiful". Probably because he identifies with them much better than with humans.
  • Against My Religion: Imam refuses to drink liquor because he's a Muslim, even though it's the only thing drinkable for the moment. Which is not well researched regarding Islam: Imam's position in the film is dire, stuck on a desert planet with no other food or water, and he has three children to look after. In Islam, if the situation is dire enough to threaten one's life by lack of halal food and clean (no alcohol) drinks, Muslims are permitted to consume any available meat (meat of a lizard, meat of a dog or pig) or drink alcohol, just to survive until help comes. This is, however, somewhat mitigated by the fact that their high alcohol content would leave an unaccustomed drinker floored. Also, the castaways had barely begun to explore their surroundings at the time he was offered alcohol, and he still had high hopes of finding a water source.
  • Alien Blood: When the flying monsters start killing each other, the blood that spatters down on the fleeing humans is blue.
  • Alien Sky: Three suns and an eclipsing planet featuring TWO separate ring systems. Skies don't get much more alien than that.
  • All Planets Are Earthlike: It's a desert planet, obviously hotter than hot. How it supports such an oxygen rich, earth-like atmosphere complete with rain is never explained. Yet there is a comment about the atmosphere being thinner, "like high altitude". And there was a preliminary scan during the crash to establish that, luckily, the planet can support human life. So the trope receives at least a Hand Wave.
  • 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...
  • Artificial Gravity: A loading bar on the inside of the glass on Fry's cryo booth shows the ship's gravity quickly go up to 100%.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Apparently, the creatures have survived millions of years after wiping out all other life on the planet by...pure cannibalism? Such a system won't be efficient and would probably make them extinct in a couple of generations due to decreasing energy levels and them eating more of their own young than they can breed.
  • Artistic License – Chemistry: Paris states that any liquor over 45 proof can be set alight easily. In reality, liquor needs to be over about 80 proof to catch fire. The screenwriter probably confused "proof" with percentage of alcohol, since 45% alcohol liquor is 90 proof, just above the threshold to catch fire.
  • Artistic License – Physics: Required to make the planet dark, as required by the plot. True a giant gas planet blocks the sun, but its rings would scatter the light (here's the sun eclipsed by Saturn, see?), putting the planet into a very dark twilight, but not something human eyes couldn't adjust to. True it eventually rains, it could have been cloudy - but that's artistic license, too. Add to that the near impossibility of this particular orbital configuration, and.. well, Tropes Are Tools!
  • The Atoner:
    • Fry. At the beginning of the movie she tries to sacrifice her mostly civilian crew to save herself, despite the fact that captains are supposed to put themselves last in crisis. At the climax, she tells Riddick that she would die for the others, and eventually loses her life saving Riddick.
    • Riddick might also count, as he appears to be ready to turn over a new leaf at the end, saying: "Tell them Riddick's dead. He died somewhere on that planet.".
  • Backseat Driver: Owens for pretty much all of his screen time. All he does is heap demands on Fry, bitch when she tries to take any action, and generally be an unhelpful noisemaker during an emergency. There's at least an attempt to give him a slightly noble slant in that he won't let Fry dump the cryo bay to correct the ship's attitude during the crash, but even that's called into question as his stated complaint is "company says we're responsible" for the passengers' lives. So even that token nobility is on shaky ground.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Johns and Riddick (briefly).
  • Bait the Dog: So it seems like Riddick, after all this talk about how bad he is, might be an alright guy after all when he prevents Jack from getting killed and used as bait by Johns. Then Riddick leaving the others to die as soon as it becomes a viable option really drives home the point of what a scumbag he can be.
    • But it's Averted once more as Fry convinces him to go back for them and he does. Further proved by the fact that Riddick is very visibly heartbroken when Fry is killed, and in the sequel where he's been trying keep mercenaries from hunting Jack/Kyra, and is also later on the verge of tears when Lord Marshall kills her.
  • 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. Earlier on, the other survivors use this trope to rescue Fry when she's cornered in one of the salt tubes and can't make it out to the surface on her own.
  • Bat Scare: Subverted, because the flock of little chittering flyers turns out not to be harmless. At all.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Riddick's captor lets the other crash survivors believe he's the equivalent of a federal marshal, but is actually a drug-addicted mercenary, out to collect the price on Riddick's head.
  • 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.
  • Binary Suns: The planet has three suns: one red, one yellow, and one blue. The red and yellow suns are always close in the sky opposite the blue, which creates an effect instead of day and night, there's blue day and orange day.
  • Bioluminescence Is Cool: Justified due to the Bizarre Alien Biology of the light-sensitive monsters that eat everything else on the planet during every eclipse. The glow-worms end up saving the lives of the survivors.
  • 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!"
  • Bond One-Liner:
  • Booze Flamethrower: Paris, who goes out spraying alcohol onto a flame, burning the surrounding monsters about to attack.
  • Bullet Holes and Revelations: Toward the end of the movie, Riddick is wounded running interference for the remaining survivors. Fry returns to attempt to pick him up, allowing him to use her as support. After a lot of stumbling around, they both freeze after an obvious sound effect of someone being struck. Fry is revealed to have been impaled by one of the bioraptors and is lifted away to her death, much to Riddick's dismay.
  • Chekhov's Skill: The main reason Johns is opposed to the idea of taking Riddick to the skiff is that Riddick's actually a trained pilot. Sure enough, after Fry's death, he's the only one able to fly the remaining survivors off at the end.
  • Chiaroscuro: The entire second half of the film. The filmmakers initially wanted to film the whole thing in real, full blackness with the only light being the sources held by the characters, but this quickly proved impractical. Still, the film uses the absolute bare minimum of light once the eclipse hits totality.
  • Closed Circle: They just loved this trope. First, their starship crashes to a mysterious planet. They go to retrieve power cells so they can leave in a smaller, functional ship. Their car they're using is solar powered, and seemed ideal on a planet with three suns, but as luck would have it, they have a solar eclipse, which releases the monsters that are harmed by light. As monsters pick off each of the characters, and they continuously lose light sources, the remaining characters are trapped in a cave, with Riddick holding the only working flashlight.
  • Cold Equation: Carolyn does one. The ship cannot land safely with all the weight in the back, so she jettisons cargo compartments, until the passenger compartment is the only one left. Everyone, including the passengers and her die, or the passengers die and the might get the ship down safe with the flight crew.
  • 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, within walking distance of a defunct mining outpost. And does so on the one day out of 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 22 months out from its port was passing so close to an inhabitable moon when the artificial pilot malfunctioned, isn't it?
    • It's established early that the planet they were passing was uncharted and because of that its mere existence caused the autopilot to exceed its tolerance due to the unexpected atmospheric change.
  • Conveniently Placed Sharp Thing: Both versions are simulated by Riddick. He dislocates both shoulders (eat your heart out, Riggs!), and slips his cuffs through some Conveniently Placed Starship Damage before cutting them off with a Conveniently Placed Plasma Cutter.
  • Cool Shades: In the first half, it's played straight: glasses on when Riddick is kicking ass. The brightness of the sunlight leaves him vulnerable without his welding goggles - when they're torn off during a fight, he's pretty much helpless. However, he takes them off later during the total darkness of an eclipse: he wouldn’t be able to see otherwise.
  • Corrupt the Cutie: Subverted. Riddick pulls a magnificent attempt 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 Manipulative Bastard but it's likely he very much likes Carolyn. Doesn't ultimately take anyway as she violently rebuffs him and convinces him to go back for them anyway after remembering what she'd attempted to do at the beginning of the movie.
  • Cryonics Failure: In the first minutes, the captain dies in their universe's version of cryo-sleep because some small meteorites crash through the ship, causing debris (more accurately, bolts bursting from the ship's interior) to perforate him while he's asleep.
  • Cult Colony: Richard B. Riddick encounters Imam, a character determined to find the colony New Mecca, where multiple religious groups are alleged to co-exist without religious conflict.
  • Cue the Sun: Used straight, as the shuttle lifts off and the triple suns reappear from behind their respective planets (meaning no more dark-loving beasties)
  • 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.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Riddick, with a dark sense of humor to go with it:
      Paris: [introducing himself to Riddick] Paris P. Olgilvie. Antiquities dealer, entrepreneur.
      Riddick: Richard B. Riddick. Escaped convict. Murderer.

      Johns: Battlefield doctors decide who lives and dies. It's called "triage."
      Riddick: Kept calling it "murder" when I did it.
    • Jack, in the beginning, after the ship has crashed and there's chaos everywhere:
      Jack: So... I guess something went wrong?
  • Death by Materialism: Johns dies as a result of his own greed. He's been hunting Riddick for years and knows full well how dangerous he is, but strikes a bargain with Riddick in the hopes that he can keep him on a leash until they're off planet and Johns can collect on his bounty. Riddick arranges for Johns to be eaten by the predators, noting that it's Johns' own fault for not killing Riddick when he had the chance. Johns would get paid whether he brought Riddick in alive or dead, but alive pays twice as much.
  • Death of a Child: One of the first victims is a youngster.
  • Death Seeker: Subtly hinted at with Riddick. That trait is (mostly) ditched in later incarnations.
  • Death World: When the bizarre layout of the planet's solar system isn't causing constant daylight and horrendous temperatures, nocturnal monsters are eating all fauna unlucky enough to come across them.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Carolyn Fry initially appears to be the main protagonist, but the limelight is quickly stolen by Riddick.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: Near the ending, an out-of-nowhere alien grabs the female lead just as she's about to escape. This is played as somewhat karmic, since she killed some people to save herself and had been perfectly willing to sacrifice the rest on the ship had it not been for her more heroic crewmate. To atone, she refuses to leave without saving everyone left, even the one person who everyone (even himself) thinks doesnt deserve it, which ultimately gets her killed.
  • 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 hides the fact he has morphine so Owens has to die in agony. He's so convinced that Riddick is going to kill them all, or hell, he just wants to deliver him for the bounty, that he makes Fry and the others wait until the last second to bring up the cells and then the eclipse hits, so they all get trapped in the dark. 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.
    • Paris is a straightforward example. Right from the start he shows himself as a cowardly gentleman. This bites everyone when he panics and flees the group, with the light cables still wrapped around him. It causes his own death and many subsequent ones as he breaks their best light source.
    • The fact that Riddick is not this despite his otherwise It's All About Me attitude is one of the primary things that makes the audience root for 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.
  • Don't Look Down: Inverted. As the group flees from the Bioraptors during the final act of the film, Riddick warns the others not to look up, as the creatures are in the sky, gruesomely ripping each other to shreds. Carolyn immediately looks up as soon as Riddick tells her not to.
  • Elephant 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.
  • Emergency Refuelling: A large part of the movie involves the protagonists trying to refuel a spaceship so they can escape the planet they're stranded on and avoid being eaten by its deadly wildlife.
  • Enemy Mine:
    Riddick: There are worse things out there than me.
  • 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: Johns suggests killing the teenage Jack to Riddick so they can use her as bait for the creatures, but instead Riddick kills Johns and uses him as bait. Doing so does give Riddick control over the group, so perhaps he's not doing it for entirely benevolent reasons. Although, as he later explains in the third film, he thought Johns was a coward for being willing to sacrifice a child to survive.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Riddick, while initially coming off as a morally ambiguous and even somewhat likable character, shows what kind of a person he really is by the end when he rather apathetically decides to abandon the others entirely for his own benefit. When Carolyn confronts him, he seems to enjoy (correctly) pointing out to her that she herself is really no better than he is, as she like him was entirely willing to sacrifice the rest of the passengers to save herself at the beginning of the story, and he almost seems to see her as a kindred spirit of sorts. He even offers to take her with him, thereby knowingly saving her own life at the expense of the others, and tries to goad her into stooping to his level. She chooses to have none of it and rejects that she is anything like Riddick by refusing to leave Jack and Imam behind. Riddick chooses to help her, intrigued by her decision.
    Riddick: Would you die for them?
    Carolyn: I would try for them.
    Riddick: You didn't answer me.
    Carolyn: Yes I would, Riddick. I would. I would die for them.
    Riddick: ... how interesting.
    • Also a major contributor to Riddick's state of mind in the end; he cannot comprehend why Carolyn would sacrifice herself for him of all people and it breaks his core life philosophies.
  • Exact Words: Since no one besides the big guy can see in the dark, Johns tells Riddick to provide recon for the group, as they have no light and the eclipse has darkened the entire planet:
    Riddick: Looks clear.
    Johns: [after barely avoiding a bioraptor attack] You said "clear"!
    Riddick: I said it looks clear.
    Johns: What's it look like now?
    Riddick: ... looks clear.
  • Eyeless Face: The bioraptors don't possess any eyes, since they're nocturnal creatures that hunt by echolocation.
  • Eye Scream: Johns shoots morphine by injecting it into his tear duct. Cole Hauser, the actor who played Johns, stated in the commentary that he was inspired to do this by a doctor's answer to "the most disgusting place" he'd ever seen someone inject themselves.
  • Fanservice: Carolyn has a habit of leaning forward while wearing a low-cut top.
    David Twohy: (in the commentary track) To all the twelve-year-old boys in the audience; you're welcome.
  • Fantastic Light Source: The glowing leeches at the end.
  • 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 redemptive death. 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 sexual maturity; 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 and instead followed the subverted tropes to a "T", undoing the work of the first film.
  • Functional Addict: Implied to be the case with Johns, who steals morphine from the medkit and injects it into his tear duct, possibly to avoid leaving visible needlemarks. See the Eye Scream entry above.
  • The Future Is Noir: Pitch Black is hard-boiled fiction, with themes not unlike Blade Runner or "The Silence of the Lambs IN SPACE!".
  • Ghost Planet
  • God Is Evil: Riddick is of this opinion.
    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.
  • Godzilla Threshold: Lampshaded by Riddick when the survivers of the crashed spaceship managed to capture him, but then releases him due to the alien fauna.
    Riddick: Finally found something worse than me, huh?
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Played with in the ending. Fry is pulled away into the darkness to be feasted on by the creatures, but unlike others we see being eaten by them in the dark through Riddick's enhanced vision, the viewers are not forced to watch what he is clearly seeing.
  • The Great Repair: The survivors of a starship crash on a remote moon must move power cells to the skiff (a small starship) so they can refuel it and escape.
  • Groin Attack: Silently threatened by Riddick towards Johns, but not carried out.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be:
    • "Where's Johns?" "Which half?"
    • Shazza, who gets ripped in half and carried off still screaming by a swarm of juvenile Bioraptors.
    • Happens Behind the Black to Hasan, the second of Imam's young pupils to die, albeit out of direct view; he's yanked into the shadows by one of the Bioraptors, and its head springs forward at waist-height in a splash of blood.
  • Handy Cuffs: Riddick is blindfolded and handcuffed around a post with his hands behind him. Sensing that the post is not secure at the top, he dislocates both shoulders to get his hands up and over and escape.
  • Hard-to-Light Fire: More hard-to-relight fire, when the rain starts extinguishing the torches and the fleeing survivors vainly attempt to reignite one with another.
  • 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!"
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Two-Fold for Johns. He didn't kill Riddick when he had the chance, as Riddick tells him just before one of the aliens eats him. And he fails to kill said alien even though he's armed with a shotgun, because in his panic he loaded one of his fake shells filled with his drugs, and after firing on Riddick, the next round to cycle is the fake shell, leading to a misfire that costs him his life.
  • Hollywood Atheist: Subverted. The imam thinks that Riddick is one of these. Riddick is in fact a misotheist, one who believes in God, and hates Him.
  • Hollywood Darkness: Averted. The film is well-named, since during the triple eclipse the whole planet becomes astonishingly dark.
  • Hope Spot: The crash survivors searching for water think they see some trees on a hill. Then they crest the hill and find an graveyard for gigantic, slug-like extraterrestrial beasts.
  • 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.
  • Hostile Weather: The long eclipse certainly picks a good time to strike, although that could be chalked up to bickering, procrastinating crew members. Then the rain starts and douses their lights. The rain also doubles as an ironic punch in the gut for the characters. In the first part of the movie, they were scrounging around trying to find water because of the brutally hot sunlight on the desert planet. When the rain finally comes it serves only to make them even more vulnerable to their enemies. Could be justified, as the eclipse probably dropped the ambient temperature low enough for atmospheric water vapor to consense for the first time in years.
  • How Dare You Die on Me!: This is Riddick's response when Carolyn Fry is dragged away and killed by the monsters. Immediately beforehand, this was also the motivation used to get him up after he was bleeding intensely and in a state of panic, just having been nearly killed by the creatures.
  • Ironic Echo:
    • An instant-action example: In the scene where Johns unlocks Riddick's restraints, Johns makes like he's about to shoot him, before the two have this exchange:
    Johns: I want you to remember this moment.
    (Riddick disarms him and points the gun at his head)
    Riddick: I want you to remember this moment.
    • Happens again right at the end of the climactic fight between the two. Doubles as a really black Brick Joke.
    Riddick: Remember that moment?
    • Imam offers to pray with Riddick, but Riddick explains that he has nothing but loathing for God. Imam 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, Imam 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.
  • I Warned You: When Johns is considering releasing Riddick until they get off the planet, Riddick gives Johns an honest warning that he'd be better off killing Riddick there and then rather than run the risk of getting knived by Riddick in pursuit of a bounty. Riddick reminds Johns of this when he kills him to use Johns as bait for the predators.
  • Just Desserts: Johns let a man die an agonizing death by not revealing he had morphine and was ready to murder Jack to distract the bioraptors. Riddick ultimately leaves him alone in the dark and Johns is killed and eaten by the monsters.
  • Karmic Death:
    • Zeke murders a survivor who he mistook for Riddick, and then is killed by the creatures when hiding away the body.
    • Paris panics and runs away, which disables the best light source and screws over the entire group. He is killed very quickly afterwards.
    • Johns is willing to kill anyone else in the group, even Jack, to distract the creatures so he can escape. Riddick wounds him instead, letting him be the distraction. Doubly so as he takes a shot at the alien that kills him, but his shotgun cycled to a fake round (which he uses to carry his drug stash) that he loaded accidentally in his panic.
  • Kill the Lights: In the last act, the more intelligent of the creatures appear to be trying to do this by attacking those holding light sources.
  • Live-Action Escort Mission: The second half of the film.
  • Living Motion Detector: A variant, in that the monster can't see you if you stand between its eyes, because of a blind spot caused by their armored heads.
  • Meaningful Echo:
    • We get this exchange:
    Johns: (after freeing Riddick from his bonds) I want you to remember this moment.
    (Riddick disarms him, pointing Johns' own gun at him.)
    Riddick: I want you to remember this moment.
    • Later becomes a double-example during the climactic fight with Johns.
    Riddick: Remember that moment?
  • Men Don't Cry: Carolyn's death is the only time Riddick shows tears.
  • Monster Threat Expiration: The critters are a prime example of this trope. At the beginning of the film, they are clearly crawling around while there's still sunlight visible. Later on, a dimly luminescent glass jar can send them screaming away.
  • Monstrous Cannibalism: Implied to be why the bioraptors start killing each other in midair.
  • More Predators Than Prey: The story occurs on a Desert Planet, and one of the only two species the protagonists encounter are predators. They arrive to the surface in numbers which a desert biome couldn't possibly provide enough food for. To make things worse, the animals can only hunt in the dark, so their only opportunity to come to the surface for prey is one month in 22 years during an eclipse of the Binary Suns. However the world is littered with the skeletons of long dead animals, some of which were massive, but has no current signs of life. It's strongly implied the unchecked predator population has rendered their surface prey extinct. Which also explains their rather keen interest in the humans. Eventually the creatures even begin turning on each other, apparently resorting to cannibalism to sate their hunger.
  • Naytheist: As he explains to the imam, Riddick absolutely believes in God — but he absolutely despises him. This is a belief known as misotheism.
  • New Neo City: Imam and co. are travelling to somewhere called New Mecca.
  • Nice Day, Deadly Night: Survivors of a starship's crash landing discover that the deserted planet they're on has three suns, resulting in almost constant sunlight. When a prolonged total eclipse occurs, they are swarmed by deadly alien monsters in the dark.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Paris has a breakdown during the trek to the ship and crawls away into the darkness. As he's wrapped up in light cords, he accidentally pulls the portable generator that powers them off the sled, destroying it. This not only gets him killed, but also leaves the rest of the characters without much light.
  • No Periods, Period: Jack is actually a teen girl, and well, you put the rest together...
  • 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.
  • Oblivious Guilt Slinging: The survivors praise Carolyn for having got them down safely, not knowing that she tried to jettison their cargo compartment.
  • 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.
  • Orange/Blue Contrast: The binary pair of the red and yellow suns and the opposite blue sun take turns in the sky evoking this trope.
  • 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.
  • P.O.V. Cam: The echolocation of the alien creatures is represented by POV shots of "images" made up of tiny pixel-dots that convey textures and surfaces. Riddick's POV is also shown several times, giving us a look at his natural night vision.
  • Pushed at the Monster: Johns suggests to wanted criminal Riddick that they use teenage Jack as bait to distract the man-eating alien creatures. Riddick doesn't take this suggestion well, instead wounding Johns and leaving him for the creatures while the rest escape.
  • Redemption Equals Death:
    • 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 passengers to save herself at the start of the film.
  • Retirony: Paris, to the extent that he was "supposed to die in France". He "never even saw France".
  • Ribcage Ridge: Several seem to indicate that there was once other life on the planet.
  • Rule of Perception: The filmmakers tried accurately representing the lighting effects of the three differently-colored suns, but even when achieved practically, it still looked fake. They eventually gave in and colored the actors to match the star behind them, which conveys the concept to the audience very effectively, despite making no actual sense.
  • Sadistic Choice: As part of Riddick's attempt to corrupt Fry and win her over, he presents her with an impossible choice. She can only convince him to go with her willingly to rescue the two others she left behind. Riddick however offers her to leave them to die and take off with him in the skiff instead. She can either die along with them, knowing that she's a good person but save no one or come with Riddick and live with the guilt for the rest of her life. What makes this worse is that as Riddick points out, there is no one to blame Fry for choosing self-preservation. She eventually does make a moral stand and convinces Riddick to help her, as her moral actions intrigue him.
  • Samus Is a Girl: Jack fools everyone, until Riddick casually mentions her gender as The Reveal.
  • Sealed Cast in a Multipack: The film features a starship on a very long journey carrying the passengers and crew this way. When the ship detects a hazard in its path, in this case, a passing comet trailing debris, it automatically wakes the crew. Unfortunately, it does this just in time for the ship to collide with the debris while the crew is still trying to wake up. The passengers end up waking up during the crash, and the plot kicks off when it is discovered that one of them, a multiple-murderer, is no longer in his pod...
  • Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You: Some posters and DVD covers depict Riddick points a gun at the audience. 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.
  • Sense-Impaired Monster: The aliens have no eyes due to hunting exclusively in total darkness, leaving them completely blind. They make up for this through Super-Hearing and echolocation.
  • Sensory Overload: Happens briefly to Riddick when another survivor accidentally shines a flashlight in his super-sensitive eyes.
  • Shaky P.O.V. Cam: They combined this trope with a weird ghost-images-in-static effect, to simulate how its blind alien creatures perceive their surroundings via echolocation.
  • 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.
  • Ship Tease: Riddick and Fry. His first direct act, before being revealed to the other survivors, is to cut away a lock of her hair and smell it. Later he demonstrates a willingness to stand up for her, and is generally more forthcoming with her than with most other characters. And of course, there is his offer near the end to have her join him in escaping the planet alone due to being impressed by her determination. It's less clear whether Fry reciprocated any of these feelings, though. The closest clue that it might be partially reciprocated is when they hold hands, even going so far as to link fingers, during part of the final escape towards the ship. She also dies saving him, so it's quite possible that part of her connected with him after he changed his mind about leaving Imam and Jack because of her sheer determination.
  • 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.
  • Small Universe After All: The novelization makes it clear that humanity has colonized multiple galaxies with Riddick coming from the Sigma Galaxy and John's chasing Riddick across three galaxies.
  • Smells Sexy: Riddick appears to be preparing to shank the new female captain from the shadows, he simply cuts off a piece of her hair to give it a sniff when she isn't looking.
  • Space Police: The bounty hunter leads the other crash-survivors to believe that he's a law-enforcement agent, although it's unclear whether he's pretending to be space police, or an officer of a planetary police force that sent him up to retrieve a fugitive.
  • Staring Down Cthulhu: Played with. Riddick realizes that the flying alien creatures have a "blind spot" right in the center of their echolocation-based vision. When he's confronted with one of them, he gets right up in its face so it can't see him. It does work, but then falls apart when a second one suddenly shows up.
  • Stripped to the Bone: Ali, one of the Imam's young companions, gets trapped in a dark room with a swarm of juvenile winged aliens. By the time the others break in, all that's left are his clothes and bloody bones.
  • Survivor Guilt: Riddick is briefly struck with this near the end after Fry is killed when she goes back to save him, if his screaming protests of "Not for me! Not for ME!" are any indication.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Jack/Kyra, though more to the characters than the audience.
  • Sympathy for the Hero: This is the source of Riddick's redemption. He's a borderline sociopathic murderer who has been killing people, though we're never told if it's for pleasure or survival. Carolyn Fry starts out much the same way; while not being a criminal she's willing to jettison all the passengers in the opening and tries to cope with the guilt for the rest of the movie. Riddick initially admires Fry for her "strong survival instinct" and offers her at the end to leave the planet together by threatening to leave her behind to die if she doesn't. She eventually refuses and professes her willingness to die for the others. This declared intent of self-sacrifice intrigues Riddick enough to go back with her.
  • Take a Moment to Catch Your Death: The death of the female lead at the end after she and Riddick survive a confrontation with two of the monsters when another lunges out of the dark and snatches her up.
  • Title Drop: In the novelization.
    [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.
  • Total Eclipse of the Plot: The prolonged eclipse allows the light-fearing monsters free rein to attack the heroes. Possibly justified since the occluding body is not the Earth's moon, but a nearby gas giant several times larger than the planet the protagonists are on. How long the eclipse ultimately lasts is unclear, but the characters conclude that it will last too long for them to wait it out.
  • Triage Tyrant: Discussed between Riddick and Johns as they see that it's still a long road to go to get to the escape vehicle and the possibility of being torn apart by bio-raptors is just increasing. Johns' discussion is an attempt to try to convince Riddick to kill Jack and use her corpse to distract the bio-raptors. Riddick, who is a Friend to All Children even if he is an unrepentant criminal, decides Johns is better off dead right then and there.
    Johns: Battlefield doctors decide who lives and dies. It's called 'triage'.
    Riddick: They kept calling it 'murder' when I did it.
  • 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).
  • Verbal Business Card: There are two in the same scene.
    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.
  • Weaponized Exhaust: Richard B. Riddick does this to the alien monsters as the survivors make their getaway at the end.
  • Wham Line: "Not her... Her."
  • What You Are in the Dark: Both literally and figuratively; Once the lights go out, the survivors start showing their true character. Several times choices are presented to them and who they really are inside shows through.
    • 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.
    • Johns and Riddick walk ahead of the group, discussing the best way to get through the canyon up ahead. Johns suggests gutting Jack and dragging her corpse as bait to distract the creatures, showing what a truly amoral Dirty Coward he is. It is Riddick that finds this idea reprehensible and he attacks Johns instead, showing there is some sort of humanity and compassion still inside of him.
  • Where Is Your X Now?: Throughout the movie, devout Muslim Imam insists that God will provide for them. So when a sudden rain begins extinguishing the torches they've been using to keep the photosensitive alien locusts at bay, decidedly nihilistic career criminal Riddick mockingly asks him, "Where the hell's your God now?" This leads to an ironic inversion a few scenes later, when Riddick goes scouting ahead, returning with halogen lights and a clear path to a shuttle that can take them off the planet, Imam triumphantly retorts, "There is my God now, Mr. Riddick."
  • 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.
  • You Are in Command Now: The captain of the ship is the first casualty of the film, killed by shrapnel at the very start of the crisis. The ship's pilot, Fry, does her best to save the ship, but attempts to save herself and Owens by jettisoning the passenger compartment (Owens stops her before dying in the resulting crash). For the duration of the film, the passengers look to Fry for leadership, and she also has to deal with the compounding problems of Riddick and the planet's deadly wildlife.
  • You Have No Idea Who You're Dealing With: Riddick uses this twice.
    • First when Fry tries to convince him to come back to save the other survivors, and he suggests she abandon them and come with him instead.
      Fry: You're fucking with me, I know you are.
      Riddick: You know I am? You don't know anything about me. I WILL leave you here.
    • 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: Riddick cooperates with most of the group's plan until they reach the canyon and he can't protect the group as well as himself any longer. However, he does end up overriding this notion after offering to save only Fry when she reaches the skiff alone but convinces him to return with her.
  • You Owe Me: Used a little differently with Johns and Riddick. Johns spares Riddick's life when there was an argument over whether he should live or die and Riddick suggests that killing him is their best option.
    (Johns fires at Riddick, who flinches, and his chains drop)
    Johns: I want you to remember this moment. The ways it could have gone, and didn't. Here. (Johns goes to give Riddick back his goggles. Riddick grabs Johns' gun instead and aims at him, ready to fire) Take it easy...
    Riddick: Fuck you!
    Johns: Do we have a deal?
    Riddick: (beat, and he gives Johns back his gun) I want you to remember this moment.
    • Riddick was clearly smart enough to know that Johns thought he could use Riddick in some way. By not killing him, Riddick (in his own personal code, at least) instantly absolved himself of any favours he might owe Johns.