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"There's a lot of secrets in District 9."
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A 2009 science-fiction Thriller/Mockumentary by Neill Blomkamp, based on his short film Alive in Joburg (which can be found on YouTube) and produced by Peter Jackson.

In 1982, a massive flying saucer came to a halt above the city of Johannesburg, South Africa. After three months of complete silence, the government had the ship boarded. Surprisingly, most of the aliens turned out to be confused, timid and starved. They were "drones" — working class aliens, incapable of surviving or piloting their starship on their own, and their leaders had mysteriously disappeared.

In August 2010, after many failed attempts to integrate the aliens into South African society, they found themselves confined to "District 9", a fenced-off shanty-town operated by multinational defense contractor MNU. The first third of the film is filmed documentary-style, focusing on sniveling corporate git Wikus van de Merwe (Sharlto Copley). Wikus is a MNU agent who's given the task of evicting the aliens, derogatorily nicknamed "prawns", from District 9. His job is to get the legal paperwork out of the way, so that the aliens can be transported to a new concentration camp in the wilderness, where they can't bother humans.

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During a search for weapons in a shack belonging to the alien "Christopher Johnson", Wikus accidentally opens up an alien device, spraying black goo all over himself. As the day drags on, he's forced to get a lot closer to the "prawns" than he'd have liked. When Wikus gets forcibly drawn into the life of the aliens and pursued by MNU, the documentary aspect slowly starts taking a backseat to Wikus' personal horrors and Christopher's efforts to save his people.

The film itself is an odd (but very fitting) combination of a sociopolitical Improv Mockumentary, extreme violence based on (among other things) Robocop and Halo, and a classic science-fiction horror story (slash Black Comedy) very much like The Fly (1986). Depending on how you watch it, it's either a scathing political satire with cool action elements, or a kickass action film with an underlying social moral.

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This film includes examples of:

  • Action Survivor: Wikus is little more than a slimy pencil-pushing bureaucrat at the beginning. Even when he starts fighting back against the MNU, he's not any stronger or better-trained—it's just that the prawns' weapons are so hilariously overpowered compared to the humans' that it doesn't really matter how inexperienced he is in combat.
  • Adult Fear: Christopher's entire situation. You're a single father trying to raise your kid in abysmal conditions while protecting him from people who will not hesitate to kill you, him, or any of your neighbors. One of these guys knocks on your door and demands that you sign an obviously illegal eviction notice, and threatens to have Child Protective Services take your kid away from you if you refuse. Do you sign the form and let them move you where they want, or refuse to sign it and (at best) have them take him away from you anyway?
  • Alien Among Us: Kind of. The whole point of the eponymous district is to ensure that the aliens are not among us.
  • Alien Blood: Averted, the aliens bleed as red as any human.
  • Alien Catnip: The aliens love regular cat food.
  • Aliens In Johannesburg: Lampshaded in the first ten minutes of the film, where the sick, malnourished aliens had the misfortune to make first contact with the South African city, and notes when the ship first appears over the city that it wasn't some place like New York City, London, or Chicago. And cue the thinly-veiled apartheid parallels.
  • Alien Invasion: Speculated to happen when Christopher returns.
  • Aliens Speaking English: Averted. The prawns understand English (and the humans who work with them understand their language), but both are physically incapable of speaking the other's language. This is Truth in Television in South Africa, a country that has thirteen official languages.
  • All There in the Manual: The promotional websites provide quite a bit of backstory.
  • Alphabet News Network: Several fictional news networks (both local and international) are seen covering events throughout the film and provide footage from earlier incidents in the prologue.
    • BNC—British News Corporation
    • UK News Desk
    • ANT—America News Television (specifically the South Africa Desk)
    • EGOLI News
    • SATV—South Africa Television
    • JHB Media
  • Alternate History: The aliens landed in 1982. Technology, on the other hand, hasn't changed, due to the alien's technology being completely inoperable by humans, and denying any attempt at reverse-engineering. In addition, MNU solely focused on weaponry, instead of more peaceful tech.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: Some good-natured ribbing has been directed at the almost cartoonishly exaggerated effects of the prawn lightning weapons on enemies, in that they don't so much destroy their targets as paint the walls with them. While there is obviously no weapons technology we possess in real life that has anywhere close to that kind of destructive capacity, and especially not one that shoots targeted blasts of electricity, the closest thing anyone has yet thought of to the prawn "lightning guns" - high-power laser weapons - would have very gory effects on a living target, and not cauterize the wound as one would expect, since the heat from the beam would boil the water in the target area, causing it to expand and rip the surrounding flesh apart as violently as any knife wound or high-velocity bullet.
  • All There in the Script: Because it's not spelled out (and the condition of the body is so severely mutilated), first-time viewers are unlikely to pick up on the fact that the dissected prawn corpse Christopher sees in the MNU labs isn't just any old prawn - it's his friend, Paul, who Koobus kills.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: News reports at the beginning establish that many regular citizens see the prawns this way, accusing them of eating live animals, kidnapping people, derailing trains, and burning down townships. Whether or not they actually do those things is open to interpretation. Even if they did do them, it'd be unclear whether they really understood the ramifications of their actions, given the cultural divide. When violent resistance groups in South Africa would attempt to send a message by, for example, derailing trains, the government would give excuses like 'the natives don't understand the system involved' and so on to cover up the unrest and keep it from spreading.
  • Amputation Stops Spread: Wikus at one points grabs an axe to cut off his alien limb, but loses his nerve and does a trial run on his finger first. The incredible pain dissuades him from any further attempts. This almost certainly wouldn't have worked, given how he was infected.
  • An Arm and a Leg:
    • During the initial attempt to get the Prawns to sign the eviction forms, one poor guard ends up getting his arm torn off when a Prawn loses his temper and attacks.
    • If the alien guns don't outright gib who they hit, they're losing a limb at least. Most prominently is the scene where Wikus rescues Christopher using the mech suit. For good measure, the mech stomps on the arm.
    • Wikus attempts to chop his arm off, believing it'll stop his metamorphosis, but he only manages to get a finger off and stops due to the pain. The Nigerian gang boss tries to have his arm cut off twice, under the mistaken belief it'll grant him the power to operate the alien weapons.
  • And Then John Was a Zombie: And then Wikus was a prawn.
  • Apologetic Attacker: Wikus, when he is forced to kill an alien as part of a weapons test.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: The mysterious alien "fluid," which powers all of their technology, and apparently can turn humans into aliens. Word of God says it's meant to repair things, which probably would apply to medical aid as well.
  • As Himself: The newsreader who makes the announcement that Wikus has contracted an alien STD is an actual newscaster for the same channel.
  • Asshole Victim: Technically, all of the MNU mooks that Wikus and Christopher kill during the raid are just security guards doing their jobs...but then again, until he got better, so was Wikus.
  • As You Know: Mainly averted except when CJ, on the last day of his 20 year magic juice collection program, explains the entire thing to his prawn friend, who probably should know better. (Then again, considering how lacking in insight most of the aliens are without their leaders, this might not be his first time having to explain everything over again in minute detail.)
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: The human mercenaries seems curiously unperturbed about the alien weaponry splattering their colleagues all over the landscape, aside from Koobus getting shellshocked a tiny bit and having to call in a heavy sniper to damage the mech.
  • Bad Black Barf: Wikus starts coughing up black fluid as a result of transforming into a Prawn.
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: The Nigerians attack the MNU convoy as soon as they arrest Wikus after his failed dropship escape.
  • Bald of Evil: Smit, Koobus, and at least one of Koobus' mercenaries. Although the baldness might just be a coincidence: for Africans, a clean shave is a pretty standard haircut. The same goes for soldiers, mercenaries and other military people.
  • Bathos: In the middle of the dramatic and intense final battle comes a brief moment where Wikus takes out one mercenary by launching a live pig at him. The pig even walks away unharmed!
  • Bee People: The only insight into the alien's biology is from an entomologist, saying they are a colony-based organism like ants or bees. Word of God has stated that the prawns on Earth are a worker caste, explaining why they're listless without direction from a leader caste. There's no official explanation as to why Christopher is different from the rest, but he might be a leader caste prawn. There might also be a hive mind at work.
  • BFG: All the alien weapons fit this title. The weakest alien gun is some sort of compressed air blaster which can knock out an entire wall and fling people dozens of feet away. Then it goes to Lethal, to Unnecessarily Lethal, to "Just What The Fuck Did The Aliens Fight That Needed Such Outrageous Firepower?" When the power armor goes live, its main guns are BFG versions of the lightning cannon and automatic rifle used by Wikus and Christopher in the MNU raid, and when the mercenaries oppose it they get no traction until a mercenary is able to severely damage it with a South African anti-tank rifle. Needless to say, the mech is a LOT more vulnerable to small-arms fire afterwards.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Double-subverted, when it appears that Wikus is going to abandon Christopher at the hands of the psychotic Koobus when Wikus runs away in his giant mech, until he hears from the mech's audio that Koobus has ordered one of his goons to kill Christopher. Cursing to himself, Wikus runs back. Cut to Christopher having a gun pressed to his head by the aforementioned goon, then the goon's entire arm is suddenly blown off.
    • Christopher's son activating the Mini-Mecha and saving Wikus' ass from the Nigerian thugs.
    • A rare villainous example: Koobus is about to be shot by Wikus' mecha, but a soldier in a jeep rams the mecha and knocks it over. This is subverted soon enough, as both the soldier and Koobus die later anyway.
    • An extremely brutal version of this occurs at the very end. Koobus has Wikus held dead to rights, talking about how he would love seeing Wikus cut up, but instead wants to kill Wikus right then and there. Just as Koobus is about to pull the trigger, numerous prawns show up, rip Koobus to pieces and begin to eat him.
  • Bigger Stick: The only reason why Wikus and CJ's raid on MNU succeeds, and their later escape to the mothership, is that guns that tend to explode enemies in one shot and are made to kill armored aliens and a mech armed with some sort of gauss cannon tend to make mincemeat of regular old human firearms and armor.
  • Bilingual Dialogue: Prawns and humans are totally unable to speak the others' language, so this suffices. Africans are also shown speaking different languages to each other at the same time.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Wikus is transformed and living in the slums, but Christopher and his son got away in the mothership, promising to return in three years. He's promised to bring help for the rest of the prawns and also cure Wikus. In the meantime, Wikus is leaving gifts for his wife, who is apparently pregnant.
  • Black and Gray Morality: The movie has almost no unambiguously good people, aside from "Christopher Johnson" and his son, the former being the only alien who tries being diplomatic and uses violence only as a last resort (even after his friend is killed, he agrees to not kill any humans during their attack on MNU, as Wikus insists), and Fundiswa, who is noticeably reluctant during the first half of the film and leaks out MNU's data post-ending, even though he knows he'll go to jail for it, to expose MNU's abuses.
  • Black Comedy:
    • The first call from Tania that Wikus gets? It's her sobbing and crying about him cheating on her, and him declaring Bill Clinton style that he did not have "pornographic relations" with an alien. It's obviously meant to be awkward and weird, since MNU's explanation of his transformation is that he has an alien STD.
    • Wikus being strapped into a firing range and forced to shoot an alien is horrifying. Wikus being covered in chunks of the alien's flesh is hilarious.
    • The entire "surprise party" scene. Wikus is in the initial stages of his transformation and has literally soiled his pants on the way home, so his constant awkwardness throughout is highly amusing until the moment he suddenly vomits and collapses.
  • Black Speech: The aliens' language is a very harsh and guttural system of clicks and gurgles. Unusually for this trope, the humans can understand it just fine, it's just not biologically possible for them to speak it themselves.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • Various people in the opening mockumentary state that MNU keeps the aliens safe and gives them what they need. Uh-huh.
    • Piet Smit claiming that his daughter's marriage to Wikus wasn't a factor in choosing him as field commander for the relocation effort (immediately after we see his parents proclaim that he "wasn't very smart").
    • It's claimed that District 10 is a major improvement for the prawns in terms of living conditions. Wikus later regretfully admits to Christopher that, unsurprisingly, D10 is in fact just as bad as District 9. It's compared to a concentration camp.
  • Bloody Hilarious: This is a very serious, layered movie. That doesn't make seeing people explode like balloons any less funny.
  • Blown Across the Room: The alien gun Wikus gets his hands on at the gansters' compound, which seems to be its explicit purpose. One shot throws a mook through the flimsy wall of the shack they're in.
  • Body Horror: How else do you describe watching yourself slowly transform into a completely different biological organism? The transformation involves skin being pierced from the inside by a newly developing exoskeleton. Wikus actually just starts tearing off parts of his skin at one point.
  • Boldly Coming: Interspecies prostitutes are briefly mentioned. And MNU's cover story for hunting Wikus is that he caught an alien STD.
  • Break the Cutie: The cuties here would probably be Christopher and his son who, while maybe not as dramatically abused in the film as Wikus, probably had to endure a lot more hardship. Tania may also qualify, given that she ends up traumatized by her father's lies and her husband's disappearance and frightened phone calls.
  • Break the Haughty: Wikus. Some people count this as Break the Cutie, due to his portrayal as a joyfully bumbling white-collar government lackey who makes papier-mâché sentiments for his pretty wife.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Of the darkest type. When being forced to test fire alien weapons, Wikus begs his captors to let him shoot a pig in place of the alien they walk in front of him. In the big Power Armor shootout, Wikus uses a gravity gun to shoot a pig... into an MNU merc and through the wall behind him.
    • Yet another dark one in the deleted scenes: the "population growth control" flamethrower unit that Wikus calls in to kill a shack filled with babies is seen again when Wikus hijacks an APC (for the assault on the MNU headquarters). They promptly get shot by Wikus.
    • Wikus telling the same assistant only sissies wear surgical masks. He is hit in the face with the fluid shortly thereafter. When you think about it, everything bad that happens to Wikus results from him not taking proper workplace safety precautions.
    • A heartwarming example: early in the film, Wikus' wife mentions that Wikus was fond of giving her handmade gifts. The very last shot in the movie is a fully-transformed Wikus making a flower for her out of metal scraps.
    • A merc loses an arm in the eviction. Another gets his arm blasted off due to Wikus' rampage.
  • Bullet Catch: Wikus in alien Powered Armor catches an RPG-7 rocket fired at Christopher's command ship. Then it explodes in his 'hand'. He survives, though. The armor also has the ability to suspend incoming bullets in a force-field generated from one of its arms and then fire them back at the assailants although Wikus himself never uses this while piloting the mech (presumably because he didn't know how).
  • Bulletproof Vest: Most of the MNU employees wear them. Wikus has one with a calculator on it. Fadiswa was supposed to get one. He is also one of the only people not to get mauled.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Let's all commit horrible acts against an alien race that would be classified as crimes against humanity if they were human. Did we mention that the alien race in question happens to have the ability to tear a man limb from limb, insanely powerful weapons, Mini-Mecha only they can use, a huge ship, and a messenger who has escaped and is likely to return with friends?
  • Call-Back: Wikus' "This is quite a find, yeah?" upon discovering the alien ship. It's what Wikus said when he found the weapons cache during the MNU eviction sweep.
  • Camera Abuse: Koobus and his MNU mercenaries get pretty rough with the camera crew during the first half of the movie, and the camera lens ends up spattered in blood a few times. In the aforementioned scene, Koobus even yells abuse at the cameraman Trent, the actual cinematographer of the film.
  • Cannibalism Superpower: The Nigerians think they can do this by eating alien body parts (the alien DNA will let them use the alien weapons). The non-existent success rate does not discourage them.
  • Car Fu: Used twice. First by the Nigerians against the MNU, secondly by the MNU against the Mini-Mecha. In, ironically, one of the Nigerian's cars.
  • Catch and Return: The Mini-Mecha is capable of stopping bullets—lots of them—in mid-air before choosing the option "Return to Sender." Awesome ensues.
  • Changed My Mind, Kid: Wikus runs from the captured Christopher in the middle of the climatic battle. As Christopher is about to die he changes his mind. Unstoppable Rage meets mecha!
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The prawn Mini-Mecha suit, the falling wreckage from the mothership (later revealed as the shuttle), and more subtly, the anti-aircraft missile launcher.
    • In addition, Wikus's sidekick is shown in the documentary sections in an orange jumpsuit, which is the standard South African prison attire. Sure enough, at the end it's revealed that he's awaiting trial because he revealed the illegal genetic experiments. He's in jail because he broke into their computer system to get the information, which is a crime in most countries.
    • Tania mentioning that Wikus would make her handmade gifts, like the papier-mâché bowl she accidentally sat on.
  • Children Are Innocent: Well, as innocent as you can be when you're living in a crime-ridden slum. One of Wikus' worst acts is torching a shed full of alien eggs, and Christopher Johnson, despite planning his escape from Earth, works hard not to get his son's hopes up, for fear of having to crush them. Christopher even tries to cheer up his son by saying that D10 will be a much better place and that they should be happy. It gets crushed when Wikus says it's a concentration camp. Christopher is caught off-guard by this honesty, which is unfortunately a new desolation, helping to humanize (so to speak) both Christopher and Wikus.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Wikus seems to drop this whenever he's upset (which is a lot). Koobus and some of the other mercenaries drop them whenever. May challenge Casino or The Boondock Saints for sheer volume of f-bombs. According to the IMDB, it's dropped 137 times, and a compilation on YouTube of nothing but the F-Bombs is more than six minutes long. This may or may not be partly due to all of Wikus' lines being improvised. He's actually cursing in Afrikaans, though the word in question ("fok") is the same as the f-word in all but spelling.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: MNU's experiments on Wikus after his transformation starts.
  • Colonel Badass: Koobus the mercenary commander. He's actually quite fearless, keeping his head even when faced by the awesome power of the alien weaponry. In the end he gets killed only when he runs out of bullets. He does, however, lose his head.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Christopher and his son are the only green prawns we see throughout the film. It might be that green prawns are more intelligent, or it might simply be a way to visually distinguish the important characters from the rest. Wikus transforms into a green prawn at the end. If green prawns are actually special, this might explain why the other prawns defended him.
  • Color Me Black: The Fantastic Racism version of the trope.
  • Concealment Equals Cover: Christopher grabs a discarded metal door as a shield to block bullets with while running from the MNU. It seems to work pretty well but Wikus' mech suit makes it fairly redundant.
  • Conscience Makes You Go Back: Wikus for Christopher.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: A Mega-Corp is involved; of course there's going to be those. Smit is the main one in the film.
  • Crapsack World: District 9 is pretty much the most run-down, degraded, depressing, hopeless hellhole of a town you could ever possibly imagine. And, for Truth in Television value, it was filmed in an actual South African shanty-town whose residents were being resettled by the government at the time of filming. In the commentary, the director pretty much describes it as Hell on Earth.
  • Creator Cameo: Neill Blomkamp can be seen giving the co-ordinates when Kobus is tracking Wikus's location.
  • Curbstomp Battle: A half-dozen hungry prawns vs. one guy with a sidearm. Bye-bye, Koobus Venter.
  • Daddy's Girl: Tania. Only that her dad is a manipulative liar.
  • Death Glare: Koobus gives one to his subordinate when he has to be reminded that they have orders Wikus is to be captured alive. He gives another to Wikus thrice during the final battle, once when he runs off to abandon his friend, the second when the mech is near-dead and is hit by a car, and the third when he's about to kill Wikus.
  • Death Ray: At least one of the alien weapons could only be called this.
  • Deconstructed Trope: The First Contact plot. The aliens that land over Johannesburg aren't invaders, they're refugees. The South African authorities, completely unprepared for the situation and facing massive public backlash against the new arrivals, hastily inters the aliens in a slum in appalling Apartheid-like conditions.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • The police brutality perpetrated by the MNU soldiers, the "No Non-Human Loitering" signs, and even the title of the film itself are all decidedly unsubtle, with chilling effect.
    • The MNU militant insignia shows a goat with two horns, two ears and an elongated beard that makes it look like a upside down star.
    • The shaven-headed Koobus seems very reminiscent of Neo-Nazis. Particularly the lines of how he "loved watching prawns die" and calling Wikus a "filthy half-breed". The actor deliberately gave Koobus an English accent and a loathing of Wikus (an Afrikaaner).
    • The aliens' drug-like addiction to cat food is based on a very common colonial occurrence: you find some substance the natives don't have (usually alcohol, caffeine, or sugar), get them hooked on it, and then make unfair deals with them that exploit their addiction.
    • The treatment Wikus receives from his fellow humans after the news media claims he's been infected with an alien STD recalls the social ostracism of people infected with HIV/AIDS.
    • The deplorable slum the prawns live in was an actual slum at the time, and continues to be a staple of South Africa.
    • The alien language incorporates clicking sounds in a similar fashion to many African peoples, such as the Bantu.
    • In a non-racial example, some critics have observed that the prawn guns tend to fry and explode people in a way that's very similar to...well, a bug zapper.
  • Dirty Coward: Despite being in a heavily armed and armored Mini-Mecha that's far more advanced than anything the humans can operate, Wikus' first instinct is to run away from the MNU troops, telling them "they can have the prawn" and begging them to leave him alone. It's not until he hears them preparing to shoot Christopher over the radio that he recognizes his own cowardice and turns back.
  • Doomed Protagonist: At least if you consider "being turned into a prawn with no hope of ever recovering" as Wikus being "doomed".
  • The Dragon: Koobus Venter and Moraneau to Piet Smit.
  • Dramatic Irony: One of the first things we learn is that something happens to Wikus. When he is heading into District 9, he tells his assistant he doesn't need to wear a protective mask or a bulletproof vest. For extra irony, said assistant (who's the only one going in without either a protective mask, a bulletproof vest, or a weapon, and is rightfully concerned about doing so) is the only one of the three not to be harmed or attacked by a prawn in any way.
  • Drone of Dread: Parts of the soundtrack, used extensively on Prawnkus.
  • Drunk on Milk: The prawns react to cat food in a similar way to hard drugs. This is an analogue to the colonialist practice of exploiting indigenous peoples by hooking them on addictive substances from the colonists' homelands.
  • Duality Motif: Wikus has one alien eye towards the end of the movie. The movie's final scene also shows that one eye of the fully-transformed Wikus retains its human coloring.
  • Enemy Mine: So, team up with the former leader of your oppressors who is turning into one of your kind, is now at the top of their Most Wanted list, and can get you into their secure facility to retrieve the one item critical to your plan... all right, when do we start?
  • Establishing Character Moment: We get two for Wikus. His Jerk Ass attitude when evicting the shantytown is mostly a front he puts on for the camera to impress his MNU bigwigs, but it does indicate that his main concern is always looking out for #1. Later we see him freak out when forced to kill an innocent prawn, showing that as self-centered as he is, Wikus is no monster
    • Wikus' redeeming qualities are hinted at early on during the shantytown eviction as well. Despite his wheedling, obnoxiously smarmy "customer service representative" personality when dealing with the prawns, he demonstrates that he's not completely awful by frantically warning a prawn to get away from an MNU truck for its own good, and reacting with obvious horror and disgust when said prawn rips off the arm of the MNU mook who was about to shoot him. When a bunch of other, potentially hungry prawns follow the noise to see what all the fuss is about, Wikus yells at the MNU soldier with him not to fire at them and prevents a slaughter of either prawns and humans by chucking some cans of cat food at the crowd of prawns to distract them, showing that he's not a complete moron and has a knack for coming up with plans on the fly.
    • Christopher's intelligence compared to the rest of the prawns is quite effectively established when all the others either rudely tell the MNU to fuck off (quite understandably) or fall for their tricks chasing their cat food addiction. Christopher is the only prawn who takes the time to ask why he's being evicted, points out that the legal form says they have to give him 24 hours advance warning beforehand, and tells Wikus that what they're doing to him isn't legal. He doesn't get openly angry with the MNU until Wikus threatens his child.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Even though Wikus clearly is alright with aborting baby aliens, he clearly has a problem with the illegal experiments MNU is doing on the aliens.
  • The Everyman: Despite the horrible things he's fine with MNU doing to the prawns early on, Wikus retains our sympathy because he's ultimately just a wimpy, clueless pencil-pusher, working in an unpleasant and stressful environment that he's severely underequipped to deal with effectively. Part of what makes the movie's action scenes so exciting (and Wikus himself so easy to root for doing said scenes) is that Wikus is no action hero, he's just a scared guy trying to stay alive, and is mostly successful in doing so because of how ludicrously overpowered the prawns' weapons are.
  • Evil Gloating: Colonel Koobus really likes the sound of his own voice. He does shoot an alien in the head after a similar rambling speech in the beginning of the movie, so apparently he just likes to dick around with his victims before killing them, and just happens to get interrupted before the critical moment in the later confrontations.
  • Evil vs. Evil: A massive fight occurs between the evil MNU mercenaries and the evil Nigerian gangsters. Both want to use Wikus' corpse so that they can activate prawn weaponry, although the gangsters are considerably less scientific about it.
  • Evilutionary Biologist: Dr. Moraneau, the MNU head doctor. Word of God states those things in the jars were his attempts at fusing human babies with alien DNA.
  • Extreme Graphical Representation: Alien vehicles are piloted via holographic control panels that also provide a 3D map of the environment. While Wikus is able to demonstrate some of the more tactile-based controls, it's Christopher and his son who show what a master of the tech can do.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: As the occasional timestamp notes, the main plot takes place over roughly three days (specifically 76 hours).
  • Eye of Newt: The native gangsters chop up Prawns for witchcraft in an attempt to gain the ability to use their biometrically locked weaponry. This is based on real modern practices in parts of Africa where people, especially those with albinism, are killed so their body parts can be used for witchcraft.
  • Fantastic Ghetto: The eponymous District 9.
  • Fantastic Racism: Aliens who arrive on Earth are treated as second-class citizens and forced into ghettos by the South African government. Parallels to apartheid are obvious, but the writer insists that it's not an allegory for apartheid. The film deals as much with hostility of black Africans toward the aliens as the white members of government (for example, the MNU officer accompanying Wikus in the opening sequence is black). The director coaxed Enforced Method Acting performances from local South Africans by asking them what they thought of immigrants to use as "man on the street" criticisms of the aliens. The original short film, "Alive in Joburg," however, does specifically mention that the government used apartheid laws against the aliens.
    • Analogies have also been drawn with Zimbabweans seeking refuge from the Robert Mugabe regime.
    • The racist interviewees in the beginning of the film were real people asked to give their opinions on recent Nigerian refugees.
    • In a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment, observe Wikus going to the restaurant the second time (while on the run). There is a very long line of black citizens waiting their turn at the counter, while Wikus walks right up to the counter to order. This may seem odd to non-South African viewers until it is realized that there are two separate lines in the restaurant, one for whites and another for blacks. This is a real life bit of racism that was prevalent in South Africa under Apartheid. It brings forth images of the United States of the 50's, with "White Only" drinking fountains and other separate facilities. This is referenced in dialogue with Wikus stating to the counter employee that the restaurant "by law, has to serve me."
  • Fantastic Slur: The aliens are referred to as "prawns" for the entirety of the film. We never learn what their race is actually called.
  • Fingore: When Wikus's fingernails fall off as he transforms into an alien, and later, when he chops off one of his alien "fingers". This is an homage to The Fly (1986). Wikus even does the same fingernail-nibbling in the mirror that Jeff Goldblum did.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Wikus and Christopher, by the end.
  • Firing in the Air a Lot: The Nigerians.
  • First Contact: A rather dark take on it. Just look at the trailer! Talked about by a sociologist during the mockumentary, who says that people were expecting bright lights and music from heaven.
  • First-Name Basis: Koobus' last name is "Venter."
  • Fix It in Post: After Wikus is sprayed in the face with the fluid, he asks the cameraman to have it taken out of the final cut. If he did, we wouldn't be talking about it.
  • Flying Saucer: The Prawns' ship is a very large, industrial-looking one.
  • Foreign Cuss Word: Wikus uses several Afrikaans naughty words during his many, many rants. Moreover, every time he says the F-word, it's actually its Afrikaans counterpart.
  • For the Evulz: Koobus's only real motive is that he loves to kill prawns.
  • From Bad to Worse: Wikus quickly goes from beleaguered corporate drone to actual alien drone, hunted by his former employers, and then gets his wife dumped, and then it turns out an alien - of whom he despised - wants him to help with a plan that just might get him killed or captured...
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Christopher is good enough to construct a bomb in the middle of combat.
  • Genre Shift: The first act is mostly shot in a mockumentary format with some conventional shots, then flips to mostly conventional around the time of Wikus's infection, with some of the mockumentary elements peppered in once in a while.
  • G.I.F.T.: Christopher is infinitely more fiery on his blog.
  • Going Native: Inverted, since the outsiders aren't native to Earth. White oppressor (Wikus) saves the oppressed outlanders after beginning his metamorphosis into a prawn, and twists the trope by clearly not enjoying his forced native-going. In fact, he almost leaves Christopher at the end out of pure cowardice.
  • Gorn: The alien weapons more often than not blow their targets into tiny, bloody pieces.
  • G-Rated Drug: Cat food. Practically the only G-rated thing in the whole film.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The MNU CEO. Smit and Koobus ultimately answer to him (or to one of his subordinates), but his only appearance in the film is part of a brief news clip. MNU as a whole and particularly its upper management and presumably its board of directors would count too; District 9 is but one of their countless concerns.
  • The Great Repair: Christopher's goal throughout the movie.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Wikus is one for a short while, but the alien DNA is taking over the human DNA quickly.
  • Handicapped Badass: The Nigerian gang leader is confined to a wheelchair.
  • Happily Married: Wikus and Tania, until Wikus' transformation begins and he's hunted down by MNU, and she thinks Wikus has an alien STD. To Tania's credit, she figures it out, and it seems that by the end of the movie she loves him again. It's too bad they're separated by, you know, Wikus being an alien at the end.
  • Harmful Healing: Wikus is sprayed with an alien fluid and injures his arm shortly after. Word of God says the fluid is a nanite solution used to fix things, and sure enough, it starts to heal the wound and turn it back into a healthy arm. Unfortunately for Wikus, a healthy alien arm. And it doesn't stop there — apparently being human is entirely fixable, too.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Wikus couldn't care less about prawns and is interested only in curing himself, until the last 30 minutes of the movie.
  • Hell Is That Noise: The high-pitched ringing-ears sound whenever the earlier effects of the fluid on Wikus become apparent (e.g. when he throws up and when he has a nosebleed).
  • Hermaphrodite: In a deleted scene, a scientist explains that the aliens have both male and female reproductive organs, being able to impregnate and become pregnant themselves. Whether this is still canon is unknown, but it leads to some interesting Fridge Logic. And, of course, the corresponding fanfic.
  • Heroic BSoD: Christopher when he reaches the MNU lab and sees the horrible carcasses that have been dissected by the humans.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters:
    • And how: not only do they abuse the shit out of the aliens but once the main character Wikus starts transforming into one, they halt otherwise decent medical treatment and are authorized by his father-in-law to torture him with painful procedures, minus anesthesia, force him to kill an innocent alien with its own weapons, and attempt to dissect him while he's still alive. When it comes to the prawns themselves, one of the mercenaries says he gets off on killing prawns to Christopher's face, other people kill and eat prawns, and MNU has been vivisecting and experimenting on them in an attempt to create supersoldiers.
    • The pro-alien humans appear in a brief scene as a human (prawn?) rights organization protesting outside District 9. It's pretty clear that the reason MNU keeps their evil activities secret is so they don't come down on them like the wrath of God and since MNU's evil has been exposed at the end of the film, you can bet those activists will be going after that company big time!
    • The Nigerians crank this movie's use of this trope Up to Eleven in one of the deleted scenes: one of them features an MNU worker who finds an alien kept in a cryogenic chamber exported from the mothership. It is then explained that the Nigerians force anybody who can't pay up into staying in a cryo chamber until someone can pay up. It's one thing to go in there willingly, but unwillingly? MNU classifies it as illegal activity, but still...
  • Human Shield: Wikus uses a scientist as one, threatening to cut out his eyes with a scalpel if the others attack him.
  • Hypocritical Humor: After telling Christopher not to kill anyone, Wikus kills a guard after being shot at. When questioned by Christopher he responds, "He shot at me!"
  • I Can't Believe It's Not Heroin!: Apparently cat food is like crack cocaine to the aliens, though no health issues or psychoactive effects are mentioned. (Given the tone of the movie, there's a roughly one hundred percent chance that the cat food is detrimental to the aliens' health and the makers just didn't have a way to highlight it.)
  • Idiot Hero: Wikus' own mom refers to him as "not very bright", as does his father-in-law. The outtakes from the documentary say Wikus is playing dumb as protective colouring. Up to a point.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: The Nigerian gangsters try to eat a human man after he has only partially mutated into a Prawn.
  • Immune to Bullets: The prawns' exoskeleton is tough enough to take a shot from a handgun, provided it isn't armor-piercing, but that's it. The Mini-Mecha is functionally immune to small arms, and can use its Gravity Gun to catch bullets and shoot them back at those who fired them; it's the big guns Wikus has to watch out for.
  • Imported Alien Phlebotinum: The goal of MNU and the Nigerian gangsters.
  • Impossibly Cool Weapon: Pretty much every alien weapon suffers from More Dakka, Macross Missile Massacre, or Beam Spam. Consider especially the phrase "Needs more pig cannon!"
  • Impossibly Graceful Giant: The alien Mini-Mecha is twenty feet tall but as agile as a grasshopper, and its legs are strong enough to jump over entire buses without smashing to pieces when it lands.
  • Improv: A lot of dialogue in the film was made up by the actors on the spot, including pretty much everything Wikus and Christopher say. Christopher's dialogue was first spoken in English by the actor, then later re-dubbed to alien speak, with the subtitles following the improvised lines. The acting directions, however, were mapped out in painstaking detail.
  • Indy Ploy: Wikus gets him and Christopher into MNU headquarters, but hasn't bothered to work out how to get out again, mainly because he thinks it's a Suicide Mission anyway. Christopher has to think up a plan on the spot to save both their butts.
  • Innocent Aliens: The humans claim that the drones think setting fire to things and derailing trains is recreational and a bit of sport. Given that this was how the government would write off the exact same types of actions by violent resistance groups in apartheid South Africa, the validity of this claim is questionable.
  • Insectoid Aliens: The prawns.
  • Inspired by...: The real life forced removal of over 60,000 blacks from District 6 in Cape Town. And the whole "Nigerians eating alien body parts to get their powers" thing is sadly inspired by what happens to Albinos in Tanzania. Similar instances of cannibalism have occurred during the Second Congo War, with the victims being Mbuti pygmies. In one of the DVD extras there is a brief conversation with Neill Blomkamp where he talks about growing up in apartheid South Africa. His decision to use this setting wasn't necessarily a decision to make a moralistic movie, but to put aliens and Sci Fi into a realistic third-world crapsack environment - and what better setting than what he knew growing up?
  • Interspecies Romance: How the MNU portrays Wikus' transformation to the public.
  • In Working Order: Averted, and a major plot point. Humans can't seem to find a way to operate the alien weapons. The only way you can do this is for someone to turn into an alien, which MNU tries to exploit when Wikus is halfway through his metamorphosis.
  • Ironic Birthday: Or, in this case, an ironic surprise promotion party.
  • It's All About Me: Wikus's father is more annoyed at the questions left unanswered, and by the inconvenience to him, than by his son's disappearance and possible death, which explains a few things about Wikus' milquetoast personality and quest for Piet's acceptance.
  • Jitter Cam: At least in the beginning.
  • Jerkass: Our first indicator that Koobus is this is when he yells at Wikus for no reason after Wikus tells him he needs to put on a bulletproof vest.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Wikus is extremely callous towards the prawns at the beginning, but we do see that he's quite in love with his wife. Eventually he manages to crack open his humanity toward the prawns as well.
  • Karma Houdini: Smit, Moraneau, and the rest of the MNU higher-ups. However, considering that the truth of MNU's activities were leaked at the end, it's likely they'll be under investigation.
  • Karmic Death: Koobus, who spends the majority of the movie just barely avoiding death several times, is eventually torn apart and eaten by prawns. And Obesandjo takes an electric rod to his brain mid-sentence, which charges and causes the rest of it to explode.
  • Karmic Transformation: Wikus, who is at best ambivalent to the plight of the Prawns, ends up turning into one.
  • Kick the Dog: It is a little harder to like Wikus after the alien abortion scene and the attack on Christopher, the real hero of the story.
  • Killing for a Tissue Sample: MNU does some tests on Wikus to confirm his ability to use alien weaponry, then decides to kill him to examine his genetic material.
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • Koobus gets ripped apart and eaten by the prawns he hates so much like a bunch of kids pulling the legs off...well, a bug.
    • Wikus himself is such an absolute asshole to the prawns early on that it's hard to see him being turned into one as anything but supremely justified.
  • Last Stand: Wikus uses the Mini-Mecha to fight the MNU mercenaries while Christopher bolts for the ship and his son. The armor is already heaving and failing with him inside, but Wikus does not stop until the ship is safe. Even more heroic when you consider that Wikus knows that he will almost certainly not be killed, but rather captured and returned to the MNU for further "experimentation".
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: The 82nd Academy Awards' montage of the film gave away the fact that Wikus starts to become an alien. As did the commercial spots for the DVD release, as well as spoiling the alliance between Wikus and Christopher, particularly the raid on MNU.
  • Left It In: Played for Drama. Early on, Wikus, while leading the documentary crew through a tour of a Prawn's home, gets sprayed on the face and arm with some kind of fluid, and he stuffily orders the crew to "Edit that out," because he's a pompous bully (to Prawns) who doesn't want to be exposed as the kind of idiot who gets sprayed with fluid when he didn't even wear a surgical mask. That footage is then preserved for In-Universe reasons: the Mockumentary begins recording what happens to Wikus two hours after exposure, eight hours after exposure, twenty-four hours after exposure...
  • Loophole Abuse: When Wikus is trying to serve one of the prawns with an eviction notice, the prawn angrily slaps the clipboard out of his hand and tells him to fuck off. Wikus then tells his assistant that the prawn in question technically agreed to their terms, since all they asked for him to do was "make a mark on the paper."
  • Ludicrous Gibs: A common end-result of the usage of alien weaponry.
  • MacGuffin Super Person: Eventually, Wikus, in the eyes of MNU and the Nigerians.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: The Mini-Mecha is capable of this, though it takes Wikus a while to set it up. The missiles robotech to the target, too. In the commentary, the director refers to this trope almost by name. He was a fan of Macross/Robotech growing up and added the effect as a Shout-Out.
  • Malicious Misnaming: Koobus mockingly shouts "Run, Dickus!" when Wikus is running away from the MNU inside the prawn mech.
  • Meaningful Name: Christopher Johnson - just switch the order of his initials. "Christopher" is also the patron saint of travelers. "Van de Merwe" is a generic name given to characters who are the butt of ethnic jokes against Afrikaaners. Dr. Moraneau's name, the MNU head doctor who attempted to fuse human babies with alien DNA, is very reminiscent of Dr. Moreau.
  • Mega-Corp: Multi-National United, or MNU, who are interested in the aliens' technology and are using them for cheap labor.
  • Mêlée à Trois: Wikus and Christopher versus the MNU versus the Nigerian gangsters.
  • Messianic Archetype: Christopher Johnson intends to save the prawns from poverty and slavery, one way or another. If he comes back with firepower and a grudge, it might be a case of Dark Messiah, or Kung-Fu Jesus. Note that his initials are an inversion of those of Jesus Christ. Since Christ is a title not a name, it works regardless. Oh, and the movie ends with him departing Earth for the heavens, and the people of Earth speculating on when he will return, and what will happen if/when he does.
  • Metamorphosis: Wikus' transformation into an alien.
  • Mini-Mecha: Shows up pretty early in the film, traded to the Nigerians for cat food. Wikus gets inside much later, and awesomeness ensues.
  • Mockumentary: In the beginning, Wikus is seen talking to a camera in a documentary-styled trip through MNU's activities, interspersed with exposition-giving cutaways to various interviewees and footage. It continues to pop up from time to time, usually via other cameras, before making a full return in the ending.
  • Mood Whiplash: Given the tone, pretty much every joke in the film.
  • Mr. Fixit: Christopher's son.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: While it's not quite as in-your-face as the references to Apartheid, the unethical medical experiments including vivisection, the forced "abortion" of a shed full of larval aliens by burning them alive, and the description of the new District 10 as "like a concentration camp."
  • Nepotism: Wikus is the MNU manager Piet Smit's son-in-law, who lampshades this with a Suspiciously Specific Denial of such. In this case, however, events later in the film invert the trope: Smit clearly gave him the promotion knowing that he was out of his depth and hoping he would be humiliated or somehow end up killed by the aliens.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Pretty much all the footage in the trailers was filmed specifically for promotion, and does not appear in the finished film.
  • Next Sunday A.D.: Although the film was released in 2009 it's shown at various points that the "present" of the story is August, 2010.
  • Nicknaming the Enemy: "Prawns".
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Christopher is the unfortunate victim of one of these. After the MNU mercs are done with the Nigerian gangsters, they get Christopher out of the truck he's in and Koobus starts beating him with metal pipes and rifle butts to get him to talk. He's so badly hurt that when Wikus comes in, he has to tug Christopher to his feet. Christopher is later lapsing in and out of consciousness because he's so badly hurt.
  • No Name Given: Christopher's son is never named in-film. It's given as Oliver in his "MNU Spreads Lies" blog, while the DVD subtitles give it as "Little C.J."
  • Not So Different: MNU and the Nigerian gangsters. They both want Wikus for the same reason. Given just how advanced the alien technology is, it's entirely possible that the scientific approach would wield equal results, that is to say: none at all.
    • To a much greater extent Prawns and humans. Christopher's blog shows that there are plenty of prawn bigots and extremists as well, a discovery that deeply shakes Christopher.
  • Not with the Safety on, You Won't: During a raid on Christopher's shanty, the mercenary taking point has his rifle on safe as seen from the gun-mounted camera's POV.
  • No-Sell: Although they're not immune to point-blank headshots, the prawns are more-or-less Immune to Bullets, which naturally makes the humans even more nervous around them. One MNU mook even shoots a couple of prawns from a distance of about thirty feet away with a machine gun during the mass eviction, and they don't do much more than flinch or stumble backwards, more in surprise than in pain.
  • Oh, Crap!: Played for Drama when, in the middle of one of his many profane rants, Wikus lets out a single quiet and solemn "Oh, fok" when he and Christopher see the nauseatingly mutilated prawn corpses in the MNU laboratory.
  • Ominous Floating Spaceship: Subverted as the humans find out that the aliens are helpless.
  • One-Woman Wail: Played perfectly straight, and foreshadowed by a One Man Wail.
  • Orgasmic Combat: The first sign that something is seriously wrong with Koobus is the breathy laughter and orgasmic sigh he lets out when he shoots an alien point-blank.
  • Overprotective Dad: Smit, who obviously thinks Wikus isn't worthy of his daughter Tania, from his first appearance in that interview.
  • Papa Wolf: The thing that snaps Christopher out of his brief mid-battle Heroic BSoD is Wikus desperately yelling at him "Think of your boy, for fok's sake!"
  • Pardon My Klingon: Generally averted, as whenever the aliens use whatever equates to profanity in their language, the subtitles simply display regular English profanity.
  • Pet the Dog: The fact that Wikus obviously adores his wife, going so far as to make beautiful gifts for her by hand, is the only reason he retains our sympathy early on in the film. This changes when he starts to change too.
  • Phlebotinum-Handling Requirements: Only prawns can use the prawn weapons. Thus Wikus becomes of interest to the authorities when he is infected with alien prawn DNA.
  • Plot Armor: Koobus. He's immune to machine guns, lightning cannons, rockets, Car Fu — you name it, he walks away from it. Boils away at the end, wherein aliens kill him to save Wikus, showing that they accept Wikus as one of their own.
  • Poe's Law: As part of the Mockumentary section of the film, local South Africans on the street are shown giving largely xenophobic opinions on the prawns. Those ultra-racist comments made by locals that "they have to go?" Not actors. The filmmakers got these sequences by asking locals for their opinions on Nigerian immigrants, without a single mention of science fiction. The fact that no-one noticed until Blomkamp pointed it out is probably what led him to make Elysium his next picture, where he hit that anvil even harder than he hit the ones in this film.
  • Possession Implies Mastery: Averted with MNU and the Nigerian gangsters, who can't work alien tech. Likewise, most prawns who can't explain it. Played straight with Christopher, who lives on top of the command module for the mothership, and has been fixing it up for 20 years. Also averted with the alien Mini-Mecha, despite its ridiculously powerful arsenal, Wikus clearly isn't using it to its full potential and it's eventually outflanked and disabled by the mercenaries after soaking up a metric ton of MNU firepower.
  • Precision F-Strike: Christopher yelling "Fuck!" in Alien when Wikus blows up a guard at MNU.
  • Previews Pulse: The film's second trailer featured pulses of many sizes.
  • Private Military Contractors: MNU's entire security force.
  • Product Placement: Wikus' Sony Vaio laptop, right in the foreground of the the first shot in the movie!
  • Psycho for Hire: Koobus and his bounty hunter team. "I can't believe I'm getting paid to do this. I love watching prawns die!" To their credit, it seems that most of the grunts are just Punch Clock Villains, while the higher-ups (who have been presumably doing it longer) are the psychos.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Wikus. He's a rather goofy guy who is smitten with his wife and generally seems to want to avoid conflict with the prawns. However, his job is basically a concentration camp administrator, and he has no qualms about bullying the prawns to meet his quotas or enforcing brutal regulations on their freedom. It's all just in a day's work, and he seems to enjoy it.
  • Puny Earthlings: While not quite Immune to Bullets, the prawns are definitely much tougher than humans and are strong enough to rip a grown man limb from limb with their bare hands...err, claws.
  • Reality Ensues: A sword that cuts both ways in the final battle. Wikus might have a Mini-Mecha that's vastly superior to anything the mercenaries can throw at him, but he's also a Non-Action Guy with no combat training, so he spends most of the time running away, and the mercenaries eventually manage to disable it by fighting strategically and pumping it full of round after round after round of small arms fire, heavy impacts and explosive ordinance. No matter how good the aliens' technology is, it's not invincible and eventually it breaks, an outcome that's doubly likely when piloted by someone like Wikus who doesn't know how to use it. Up until that point, though, Wikus still makes mincemeat of the MNU guys because relative inexperience is irrelevant when guys with small arms ordinance and light body armor are going up against a two-legged Walking Tank that fires lightning bolts, manipulates gravity and can pop people like water balloons with a single hit.
    • Wikus learns very quickly why you should always wear a protective safety mask when working with dangerous chemicals in an unsanitary environment and alien technology you don't understand how to operate.
    • Arguably, the film's whole premise is an example. How would First Contact go with a heavily-armed (not to mention ugly) alien race that's advanced enough to travel to our planet but not organized enough to be an invasion force? Judging from our history, it would go rather poorly.
    • Although his revealing MNU's vile genetic experiments to the public was obviously a good thing, Wikus' sidekick Fundiswa goes to prison anyway because he broke into their computer system to get the information, which is against the law. Hero Insurance does not exist in real life, and just because you did something illegal for clearly altruistic reasons doesn't mean you won't be charged with a crime.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: The film's portrayal of xenophobic anti-immigrant South Africa is, if anything, toned down not just from history but from actual modern life:
    • District 9 itself is not CGI and wasn't built for the movie, it was an actual slum where immigrants were really living at the time of filming (and were in the process of being relocated by the government.) The Vox Pops segments where people make racist comments about the prawns on camera? Not actors, those were real South Africans asked for their opinions on Nigerian immigrants, and had no idea they were being interviewed for a science fiction movie.
    • Obasanjo and the other Nigerian gang members carving up aliens so they can eat them and gain their powers? Horrifyingly, that wasn't an invention of the film - cannibalism of body parts for witchcraft is still practiced in parts of Africa today, especially on albinos (whose body parts are believed to have magical powers.)
  • Recycled In Space: The Apartheid Era WITH ALIENS! Or, Alien Nation in South Africa without Rubber-Forehead Aliens.
  • Red Herring: Fundiswa Mhlanga, citing concern for his family, asks for a ballistic vest at the beginning of the operation to service eviction notices to the aliens. As he cannot find one, Wikus assures him not to worry about it. Not only is Mhlanga not killed, as expected, but he is the only character of the three who doesn't get attacked by an alien. This sequence simply shows the rather slipshod outfit Wikus is running.
  • Red Right Hand: A major plot device is Wikus' alien arm, especially how it lets him operate prawn technology. Ironically, it's not his arm that gives him away before he can get to District 9; it's his moustache, his most identifiable facial trait. If he had shaved it after going on the run, the people in the restaurant probably wouldn't have freaked out during the news report about him.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Wikus goes absolutely apeshit in the Mini-Mecha, trying to take as many MNU mercenaries with him as he can during his Last Stand, covering Christopher to help him get back to his ship. He yells "IS THAT ALL YOU'VE GOT" while the mech is literally falling to pieces around him, still trying to take down more MNU mercs. Of course, he could be talking to the mech not the mercs; regardless, he's pretty much roaring to keep fighting.
  • Rock Beats Laser: The MNU mercs, after a fair amount of effort, manage to bring the Mini-Mecha down. However, it takes a lot of small arms fire, at least one rocket, no less than two trucks, and a huge-ass anti-tank rifle. In addition, the only reason they ever have a chance is because Wikus doesn't know exactly what he's doing.
  • Rule 34: Yes, there is actually porn of Christopher with a penis despite him being an alien. Not to mention that the aliens reproduce asexually.
  • Ruthless Foreign Gangsters: The Nigerians, with their black market cat food, illegal arms dealing, inter-species prostitution, and eating the flesh of the aliens, ostensibly to gain their "power", are working District 9 from every possible angle.
  • Scannable Man: The left side of every prawn's head has white paint with a decal on it.
  • Scary Black Man: Generally averted given that the film takes place in South Africa, but damn the Nigerian gang boss Obesanjo is one scary dude, despite being in a wheelchair and never raising his voice.
  • Scenery Porn: The choppers flying toward the Mothership is definitely this.
  • Scenery Gorn: District 9 itself is positively disgusting to look at. (Even more horrifying, most of these scenes were filmed in an actual temporary housing settlement in Joburg.)
  • Serkis Folk: The aliens are completely computer-generated. The deleted scenes on the DVD (only one of which has CGI added in, by the way) also reveal that Jason Cope played pretty much every single grown alien in the film that got more than five seconds of screen time. Blomkamp describes the animation process as "rotomation," a portmanteau of rotoscopy and animation. Basically, Cope was digitally erased from the footage and his performance was referenced by the animators, but not actually recorded move-for-move.
  • Separated by a Common Language: The "prawns" to which the aliens are compared are not the seafood, but the Parktown prawn, a species of cricket found in South Africa. Which are known to eat cat food if they can...
  • Sequel Hook: Christopher will be back. The aliens are living in District 10 by the end of the movie, so there's your title right there.
  • Sheep in Wolf's Clothing: Wikus.
  • Shock Party: "Baby, listen, I might've crapped in my pants—" "SURPRISE!!!"
  • Shout-Out:
    • During the attack on MNU HQ, you can see Tetra Vaal Biosafety on the wall. Also, the Mini-Mecha looks a lot like the robot from Tetra Vaal (also by Neill Blomkamp), and "Tetra Vaal" signs can clearly be seen inside MNU headquarters. It was subsequently remade as the full-length film Chappie.
    • As mentioned above, the armor's Macross Missile Massacre is a reference to that trope's namer.
    • The mothership's landing module bears a strong resemblance to Serenity.
    • The Mini-Mecha's gravity weapon looks to be one to Half-Life 2.
  • Situational Sword: Prawn weapons require prawn DNA to work. Most of the plot is driven by MNU seeing Wikus as their only shot at being able to operate the far superior Prawn weaponry.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Wikus. The F-word is dropped 137 times.
  • Some Call Me "Tim": The only alien with a name is "Christopher Johnson". The origin of this moniker is explained through Christopher's blog, where he states that the MNU has assigned all aliens new, human names as a form of cultural repression. This is implied in the film itself, but never stated outright.
  • Spiritual Antithesis: To Avatar of the same year. Both are sci-fi action films about a race of aliens being exploited by a militaristic Mega-Corp, but while Avatar was a PG-13 mega-budget Hollywood blockbuster with a cast of major stars about humans oppressing a race of angelically beautiful but technologically primitive human-like aliens on their own home planet, District 9 is a gory, profane hard R independent film featuring a cast of unknowns about a race of ugly but technologically superior bug-like aliens living in horrible conditions on Earth. The protagonists of both films are white men who start Going Native through the most literal biological means, but Jake Sully was a career soldier who was crippled in the line of duty and jumped at the chance to inhabit an alien because he could enjoy the basic biological pleasures of having a functional body, while Wikus van de Merwe is a wheedling paper-pusher who undergoes a Karmic Transformation against his will but gains the access to mega-powerful weaponry in the process. Even their climaxes are mirror images of each other: In Avatar, an unarmored Jake Sully duels Colonel Quaritch while the latter is piloting an AMP suit, while in District 9, it's the protagonist who's piloting the mini-mecha while Koobus and his army of goons attack it with small arms fire.
  • Starfish Aliens: Averted. Although the prawns are far from Rubber-Forehead Aliens, they still have humanoid shape and body language as well as recognizable facial expressions. Blomkamp originally intended on them looking more alien, but realized that they would be harder to empathize with. The original short has the aliens looking much more inscrutable.
  • Storming the Castle: Wikus and Christopher at the MNU labs.
  • Strapped to an Operating Table: Played horrifyingly straight with Wikus, who is fully conscious while his own father-in-law orders his vivisection.
  • SWAT Team: MNU has two variants of armed personnel in their employ:
    • Security Force: The standard MNU guards who wear all black combat gear and carry white firearms, who provide most of the security and law enforcement at both District 9 and MNU Headquarters.
    • First Reaction Battalion: The much tougher "cowboy" private contractors who wear a mish-mash of their own combat clothing and white MNU body armour. They are called in for serious incidents to back up the regular MNU security forces and seem to be subject to much less oversight.
  • Super Strength: Not that extreme, but the prawns are still strong enough to literally toss people around like ragdolls and rip them a grown man to pieces with their bare hands...er, claws. Considering how they're universally malnourished, starving, and most likely disease-ridden, it gives you a hint at how strong they must be when they're in perfect health.
  • Tested on Humans: Inverted when Wikus is forced by his captors to test an alien weapon on a live prawn. An offhand comment by Moraneau indicates that there have been previous (fatal) attempts to integrate human and alien DNA. Also played straight: a horribly mutated human fetus is visible in a jar during the assault on the MNU lab.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Again, every single time the alien weapons are fired — including the counterattack performed by the Mini-Mecha. It is glorious. Eventually reaches the point where all you can ask is, "Just what the fuck are the prawns used to fighting?" Especially since they're already strong enough to rip people limb from limb without using weapons. Though perhaps it's a case of Puny Earthlings, as the aliens seem to treat getting shot by a handgun as equivalent to a hard shove several times.
  • They Would Cut You Up: Unlike most examples, they damn well very happily would cut you up.
  • They Walk Among Us: Well, they would walk among us, except that we have ever so kindly moved them into a horrible filthy militarized ghetto.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: Wikus in the back of the MNU van, after he has been apprehended by Koobus.
  • Title Drop: "There's a lot of secrets in District 9."
  • Too Dumb to Live: The Nigerian gangster boss is apparently so much of a megalomaniac that his reaction to the alien Mini-Mecha slaughtering all his men is to start ranting at it in a fit of annoyed pique. Predictably, his head is impaled and detonated mid-rant.
    • Wikus really should have known better than to turn down an offer of a bulletproof vest or protective surgical mask while heading into District 9, especially since he's not only openly antagonistic to aliens who are much tougher and stronger than humans but is himself a Non-Action Guy with no combat experience to boot. Getting a faceful of alien gunk is probably one of the nicest things that could have happened to him.
  • Took a Level in Badass: By the look of it, Wikus. Then again: powerful, user-friendly, alien technology meets Wikus's rage, recognising him as family — that's a free ticket to Took a Level in Badass.
  • To Serve Man: Inverted. The Nigerian gang believes that eating prawn body parts will grant them power over the alien's DNA-activated technology. They eat the limbs raw. They don't even afford the prawns the dignity of paella.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: The aliens love cat food, bordering on drug addiction at times.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: If you haven't seen the film, just watch the DVD ads.
  • Transhuman Treachery: Inverted; in South African Alien Apartheid, humans betray YOU!
  • Unreliable Narrator: We get our initial ideas about the prawns from possibly biased documentary footage and a making-of video for a bit of corporate spin. Not everything they say is true.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Wikus in his Last Stand. He keeps the Mini-Mecha going through what can only be described as pure Heroic Willpower, despite it literally falling apart around him.
  • Untouchable Until Tagged: See above Unstoppable Rage. Once a single missile gets through, he's slowly whittled to the mech's destruction.
  • Vampire Refugee: Alien Variant. Wikus as the plot moves along (not to be confused with the actual aliens who are treated as refugees.)
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: In the penultimate shot, when Wikus' wife talks about the handmade flower she mysteriously received, on the mirror behind her you can briefly see three ultrasound pictures. Those with some radiology knowledge would recognize them as abdomen cavity ultrasound images, with the top one showing what looks like a 8-10-week-old embryo.
  • Villain Has a Point: Yeah, Koobus is a racist, bloodthirsty maniac, but he's not wrong when he calls Wikus a coward for running away while he's driving a telekinetic bulletproof walking tank that shoots lightning bolts from its hands. Wikus himself seems to realize it, and soon changes his mind.
  • Villainous Rescue: Subverted. The gangsters show up just as Wikus and Christopher are being taken away by the PMC troops, resulting in Evil vs. Evil as noted above.
  • Villainous Valour: Obesandjo might be a psychopathic cannibal, but you need some serious balls to laugh at the hero when he's just blown a hole through the wall of your cabin and is currently aiming a very large gun at your head.
  • Viral Marketing:
    • The in-universe Multinational United webpage, and Christopher Johnson's blog. In addition, signs have appeared in major cities, instructing people to report all sightings of non-humans to an MNU hotline, which has its own website.
    • At Comic Con, they had people handing out various fliers asking for donations to support humanitarian efforts in District 9.
    • The first viral ad was a sign outside a bathroom at San Diego Comic-Con '07, announcing "NO ALIENS ALLOWED".
    • There's a Facebook group called MNU Spreads Lies.
  • Viral Transformation: Wikus. After being sprayed by the black liquid, he begins to transform into an alien, starting with his left arm. This gives him status as an alien as far as their advanced technology is concerned. The movie keeps count of how many hours it's been since he was "exposed", and the progression of the transformation is evident onscreen. He eventually completes the transformation and joins the "prawn" residents of District 10.
  • Virus Victim Symptoms: Wikus displays these after being sprayed with the black prawn goo.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: A lot. Even a mech suit vomits oil at one point.
  • Vox Pops: As part of the Mockumentary section of the film, local South Africans on the street are shown giving largely xenophobic opinions on the prawns. The filmmakers got these sequences by asking locals for their opinions on Nigerian immigrants.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Christopher's doomed prawn friend Paul.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: It's very heavily implied (and even pointed out in the DVD special features) that this is why MNU can get away with what they do. Played absolutely straight in the fact that Christopher is easily the most compassionate character in the film. And he's one of the aliens.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Apparently, less than the dirt they're standing on. This movie is pretty much about exploring this trope. Lampshaded in the first five minutes or so. If you take Christopher to be a master alien to the drones stuck on this C-grade planet full of primitives, well we're the aliens and What Measure Is A Non Prawn? Nothing. Until one is willing to sacrifice himself for him and his son.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Happens to Wikus. He's alone, in an apparently invincible Mini-Mecha, and the soldiers thus far haven't tried to chase him. Then he hears that they're gonna kill Christopher. *beat* Roaring Rampage Of Revenge!
  • Your Head Asplode: The result of the alien weaponry, in the cases when it's not Your Entire Body Asplode. Most notably in the case of Obesanjo, whose head actually swells up before exploding.
  • You Shall Not Pass!: The main character's real turning point. In a mecha no less.

Alternative Title(s): District Nine

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