Set in the distant future, a spaceship carrying 39 people, crashes on a desert planet when the ship is caught in a meteor storm. Ten survivors, led by the second-in-command Carolyn Fry (Rahda Mitchell), find themselves abandoned on a hot and humid planet that receives constant sunlight from three orbiting suns. Fry is flanked by three major personalities: bounty hunter William J. Johns (Cole Hauser), his prisoner Riddick (Vin Diesel) – a deadly criminal who was being transported to a prison cell, and religious man Abu al-Walid (Keith David). Not only must Fry struggle to lead these three strong willed personalities, she must also contend to help the rest of the survivors find food, water, and shelter. And there is still one more significant challenge: every 22 years, the planet’s three suns go into a total eclipse for a month where darkness brings out the planet’s real inhabitants; large, flesh eating, flying Raptors that come out and dominate the surface of the planet while it is in total darkness. Unfortunately, the meteor shower that brought down their ship is also about to cause the eclipse. The lights are about to go out. So, with this emerging threat, Fry must cooperate with Riddick, who has surgically enhanced eyes that are able to see in the dark, to protect the survivors from the raptors and to eventually lead them off of the planet.
Make no mistake about it, Pitch Black is a film that is consciously filled with gospel allusion. First of all, the planet is ruled and receives light from three suns, an obvious nod to the Trinity. Yet, that planet is also inhabited, underneath, by dark, life-killing, creatures. The creatures cannot emerge onto the surface of the planet unless the light is blotted out, because light burns their skin. They can only live in darkness. When the eclipse finally occurs, these creatures spew, demonically, onto the surface from the bottomless pit of the planet’s under-world.