Working with a reported budget of $30million, but with invaluable aid from heavy-hitting producer Peter Jackson, first-time director Neill Blomkamp came up with the startling District 9, a sci-fi thriller that combined sitcom-style humour, provocative satire and gross-out horror – and made many of the big-budget efforts currently coming out of Hollywood look like bloated hulks.
The South African-born filmmaker invites us to imagine that a giant UFO arrived in the skies over Johannesburg over 20 years ago and has been hovering there ever since, leaving the authorities with the headache of dealing with more than a million alien refugees – tall, insect-like creatures the locals have disparagingly dubbed ‘prawns’.
The prawns have been living in a squalid Soweto-like shantytown named District 9, but the film’s anti-heroic human protagonist, a pompous bureaucrat brilliantly played by newcomer Sharlto Copley, has the task of relocating the refugees to a new settlement hundreds of miles away. Unfortunately, he gets infected with an alien virus and is forced to go on the run…
Special features on the new Blu-ray (and to a lesser extent on the DVD) show how Blomkamp went about creating his film’s visual effects and its inspired mash-up of docu-verité comedy and sci-fi splatterfest.
Released on 28th December.