41 – Pitch Black

A spaceship crash-lands on a desolate planet. Now the survivors must face
the unknown – and each other – in a never-ending game of terror.

Sound familiar? Okay, maybe a little. But there are a couple of hooks in this movie. One is that the planet these guys have landed on has three suns, and wouldn’t ya know it all three suns are about ready to align, plunging the planet into a complete and lasting darkness. Add to this creepy setting a malicious convict named Riddick (Vin Diesel) who’s gone to the trouble of having his eyeballs surgically altered so he can see in the dark, the better to sneak up on you, my dear. This is explained to us rather poignantly early on, and of course his eyesight becomes useful later on.

There are two ways to look at this movie – either as generic drama, powered by a plot, or as a horror film. Those of you looking at it as a horror film already have low standards (admit it!), so you won’t be disappointed. I don’t mean to belittle you, but let’s face it – when you want to sit down to a good horror film, the story isn’t always a top priority. You want stuff that’ll scare you! If you’re looking at this as a drama – man versus self, man versus alien planet, and so forth – you still won’t be disappointed. In short, there are two things going for this – an excellent use of special effects (and, consequently, a great sense of what’s creepy) and a solid plot. You can’t go wrong.

To complicate matters, the remaining humans – now deep in darkness, with only flares, flashlights, etc. to help them – are besieged by nasty flying alien creatures who only attack in the dark. Seeing the ripe and ready flesh of the humans must seem like an all-you-can-eat buffet to the aliens. And if the outside threat isn’t enough, our heroes have to deal with Riddick, who’s released from his chains early on. Will he kill them all? Will aliens slaughter them in their sleep?

I won’t get into the acting except to say that I have movie posters in my house that have more emotion and personality. And the script itself – the dialog sounds as if it were written by a high-schooler. But there are a lot of genuinely startling moments, and there’s a magnificent atmosphere to the whole deal. You never get to settle in to the movie, and that’s key to a horror film, in my book. At no point did I have a chance to sit back and notice how bad the acting was, and that’s quite a feat. So, in short, you can either look at this movie super-critically (in which case you won’t be pleased, unless you delight in finding fault!) or simply go with the flow. It’s a scary ride, folks, because you don’t know what you’ll run into when it’s dark.

Pitch Black: 6.5


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