Directed by: David N. Twohy
Written by:Ken Wheat
Starring: Radha Mitchell, Vin Diesel, Cole Hauser, Keith David, Lewis Fitz-Gerald
Released: May 18, 2000
Grade: A-

A spacecraft with 40-odd travellers is travelling to a distant location.  That is until they encounter a meteor shower forcing them to crash land on an unknown planet.  This is certainly not unfamiliar territory for a sci-fi film.  What is interesting is what follows.

The first course of action is finding a water source and burying those who did not survive the impact.  Finding water turns out to be the easier of the two tasks because upon digging a burial pit, they uncover a series of hidden tunnels inhabited by thousands of vicious, hungry “creatures”.

A few of the team fall victim to their prey until their weakness is revealed - they cannot stand sunlight.  Three suns surround the planet and darkness seems likes a rare event.  They discover a discarded emergency spacecraft and can use its power cells to help repair their own craft and return them to civilisation.  They didn’t count on one thing - a solar eclipse.

From the moment the creatures are introduced, they will really get under your skin.  They are fantastically brought to life with digital animation and are the scariest looking beasts since Alien.  Throw in some distinctive crunching and gnawing sounds from the sound effects team and you’ve got one scary movie.

Shot at Movie World on the Gold Coast and the South Australian outback, Pitch Black, whilst not an official Australian production, has a lot of Aussie talent on display.  Radha Mitchell (Love And Other Catastrophes) takes on her first leading role and this should help launch her career abroad.

The two biggest surprises for myself in this film were both the direction and the writing.  David Twohy uses different colours and a terrific mix of light and dark to set a very disturbed scene.  Right from the opening credits, there’s something different about this film - commercialism is out-the-window and it’s a credit that he creates such contrasting images on such a small budget.

Furthermore, these characters actually talk like real people and perhaps that adds to the fear the movie creates.  I’m more surprised to see it in a cheap sci-fi film.  It puts crap like Armageddon another rung down the ladder.

It’s not everyday a quality science fiction film comes along and this one’s right up there.  See it with the company of friends and prepare for something a little different with a few unexpected developments and top-notch visual effects.  Are you afraid of the dark?