Posted by: Peter Hall
Directed by Neill Blomkamp, 2009
Written by Neill Blomkamp & Terri Tatchell
DISTRICT 9 will end up being one of the most remembered films of 2009, as well it should be. Not because it’s perfect, sorry to say, but because it’s a barrier breaker. For the hardened fans of fantastic cinema, D9 will be a double-lunged breath of fresh air fired from a double-barreled shotgun of science fiction and horror. For a new generation, D9 will be a gateway drug into older, better cinema. And for studios, D9 will be proof positive that original ideas, particularly those of this genre, and unknown but not unqualified talents are worthy of their investment.
But here’s the catch. Stop watching the trailers. If a TV spot comes on, change the channel. If you see one of those “Humans Only” print ads, don’t look at it. You’re being lied to. The film you may think DISTRICT 9 is is not the film you will see in theaters (and trust me, you will want to see this film in theaters). Don’t worry, I’ll be walking on eggshells here, so feel free to continue reading why it isn’t those things and still remain unspoiled.
Neill Blomkamp’s feature debut is not a faux documentary nor is it filmed in the first person style, as the trailers make it out to be. Nor is it about the world’s reaction to aliens who have just arrived on Earth. DISTRICT 9 is a small, intimate story set within a fictional world in which aliens have landed 22 years ago. That last piece of information is crucial to shaping your notion of what this movie is. It is not a recount of what has already happened nor is it an invasion film.
Think of DISTRICT 9 as James Cameron’s ALIENS without there ever having been an ALIEN. It’s a very narrow story set within a very specific universe familiar enough to our own to feel grounded, but unpredictable enough to feel lethal for all involved.