In a crossover genre that reminded me a bit of the only other big exposure I’ve had to operetta style plays/shows (i.e. Cats), Repo! The Genetic Opera was a twist and melding of something I’m not used to seeing at all. And, big plus, in the form of a movie. And what more could seal this musical deal? Darren Lynn Bousman, director of Saws 2-4, was the director. That’s a pretty sweet marmalade right there. And I was surprisingly not bored during this horror/rock opera/film extravaganza.
In a strange dystopian intro scene that may remind those of us who have seen Mystery Men of a similar grimy town flyby, there is a new way of living in the city. And that is prologued by the GraveRobber (Terrance Zdunich). In this new dark and sinister world, people are living longer. How, you may ask? Through the use of artificial organs. You
can pay for these organs with a monthly fee, but it must be paid on time to GeneCo. If not, “Rotti” Largo (Paul Sorvino) will send his RepoMen after you and remove it from you.
The story focuses around a doctor Nathan Wallace (Anthony Head) and his sick daughter, Shilo (Alexa Vega). In a story of sick and twisted nip/tuck pleasure, betrayal and love, and discovered identities, Repo! The Genetic Opera combines the operatic style of singing with the gruesomeness of shock rock. What I found surprising, coming from a director who has done such a violent and intestine filled series, gave a bit of humor and poise to the blood and guts. I was never grossed out (as if this film or any other could do that) by the events unfolding before me, it was more with the type of music and subject matter. It was a winning combo, to be sure.
I liked the subject matter (dystopian world of the morbid) and found it to be a simple enough plot to get across with how many underlying motives were at play. What I was semi-impressed with was the singing. Anthony Head, star of Buffy and featured on my favorite British comedy, Little Britain, was a phenomenal singer. Alexa Vega, a bit weak, which surprised me. Terrence Zdunich was a phenomenally good stage presence in front of the camera. I enjoyed his pop out of a trash can every once in a while. He had the Cats vibe down. His morbid look was appealing and flashy, almost like a Rum Tum Tugger (although this guy didn’t do any theater before this, so far as I can tell…).
Some surprising cast though in this film. Paul Sorvino, star of musicals and dramas and a couple of Italian Mafioso films, was a good presence, but weak as a counter character/villain to Nathan (Anthony Head) the age difference was a bit of a problem for the plot device they had to deal with, and so it just came off as odd. His singing was a bit weak too, but I think that’s something that happens when you have to speak/sing lines in a rock opera. Sarah Brightman, English singing extraordinaire was delightfully pleasant for as small of a role as she was given. Her
singing sent a few chills down the old spine.
And there’s even more! Throw in Bill Moseley, actor from a shit-ton of horror films, including a few Rob Zombie vehicles. And Nivek Ogre of Skinny Puppy (industrial metal band for those of you who don’t know)? Who knew? I could barely put the names and the faces together with this nip/tuck of a performance. Oh, and Paris Hilton for sex appeal. No big surprise there.
In an hour and a half of rockin’ and a rollin’, you’re exposed to the world of blood and guts, drums and guitar. I’ve never seen a movie like this before, and this sets the bar sort of high on expectations (and no, I won’t be watching Rent anytime soon). So move aside The Wiz, because there’s a new favorite musical film in town. And it’s got more of an edge to it. So strap in and hide your organs for Repo! A 6.4 out of 10.