It was the year 2000 and I was in the infancy of my young adulthood, still high on the fumes of alcohol and potentially under the influence of some controlled substances, so one could argue that my views or opinions were clouded.
It was also at the turn of the millennium with the promise of new and prosperous things to come. So when two fellow like-minded comrades in celluloid crime and I spooled out of the local auditorium, we found ourselves in deep conversation about the sci-fi action horror film that we had just witnessed. I remember feeling greatly impacted by it with the entire concept and execution leaving me enthralled.
Specifically I recall stating that it was an instant classic with a potential cult following in the making and at least one of my colleagues nodded in full agreement with my bold proclamation.
On paper Pitch Black sounds like your average sci-fi action flick with Vin Diesel at the helm, (poised on the precipice of his portrayal of Dominic Toretto from The Fast and the Furious and Xander Cage from xXx that would cement his name in the genre for years to come) bringing a raw energy to his character that ripples beneath the surface and threatens to let loose on his fellow human counterparts, much like the real enemy lurking beneath the planets surface.
Pitch Black would even project the character of Riddick in a further two adventures on the big screen with a third film announced on its way, proving that there is still a lot of appeal on offer.
It’s this raw energy that still resonates on screen today on repeated viewing and connected once again with me, and this time I was not under the influence….kind of.
Supported by a cracking, primarily Australian cast in Radha Mitchell (Silent Hill, Rogue), Lewis Fitz-Gerald (Breaker Morant), Claudia Black (Farscape, Stargate SG-1), Rhianna Griffith, and Simon Burke (The Devil’s Playground), all of whom bring their “A Game” with a high level of intensity and humanity to their role. The irony in that the more human their characters display, the greater their chance of being exposed, and their emotions leading them to ruin. In order to survive in Pitch Black, you need to strip away all emotions or live with that mask permanently in place.
It also helps that there are a couple of excellent hard-hitters on screen to with hard-boiled futuristic cop without a conscience played by Cole Hauser, and the ultimate survivalist and in this instance, a man of faith, played by Ketih David.
David Eggby keeps the gritty realism throughout his stunning cinematography that eschews a beautiful landscape in a remote Australian landscape to bring an otherworldly factor on screen blasting the audience with a rich array of colours and visuals.
Both the creature effects and visual effects team also deserve their own accolades for bringing a rich and diverse approach to the nocturnal alien creatures that hunt down the humans and fighting among themselves for the scraps, highlighting once again the theme of survival in a desolate and harsh terrain.
It’s a simple and age-old premise that works because of the combination of all of these elements that make this film still strong today. If you can forgive the odd blemish, Pitch Black deserves high praise and repeat viewing. It may be twenty years old but in this writers’ mind, it is one of the greatest sci-fi horror films since the turn of the century.
- Saul Muerte