The newcomers are, in a word, gross. A million of them showed up on South Africaâs doorstep 20 years ago. They steal. Theyâre violent. They breed like insects. They have vile dietary needs.
And after two decades in a vast walled-in shantytown, the government and âthe peopleâ have had enough. Theyâre to be forcibly evicted by âcontractorsâ â 1.8 million beings sent to a concentration camp.
Nobody seems to mind. When youâre grotesque creatures the locals have nicknamed âprawns,â restrictions on movement, breeding and land ownership are the best you can expect in âDistrict 9,â a splatter-happy sci-fi film that slides a sociology lesson in between the exploding heads.
Johannesburg native Neill Blomkampâs film is equal parts âIndependence Dayâ and âAlien Nation,â but it really aspires to be a sci-fi âBlack Like Me.â Only when Wikus van de Merwe (Sharlto Copley), the bureaucrat in charge of the evictions, becomes hunted like the aliens can he feel their pain. Corporate skulduggery, medical experiments and trigger-happy mercenaries conspire to open Wikusâ eyes to the inhumanity of this situation â even if the creatures heâs dealing with arenât human.
As allegory, âDistrict 9â isnât all that, despite the racism parallels. But as straight sci-fi action, it packs a punch, once you get past the ick factor.