Repo! The Genetic Opera

“This movie. It’s a special one. I don’t mean special to me. I mean it’s just special. I still don’t know what to make of it. Where it fits in the world. Whether or not I even like it. It’s clearly a hot mess, but is that a compliment or a complaint? I don’t know. I do know that cult films don’t get more culty than this.

What exactly is Repo: The Genetic Opera? Well, set in the not-too-distant future, there’s some sort of epidemic that destroys people’s organs. A big coporation comes up with the technology to effectively transplant organs and makes lots of money off that an the painkillers the patients become addicted too. Soon, medical crisis is averted, but surgery becomes a luxury item and addiction. Everyone’s getting some sorta work done, and putting it on a convenient payment plan. But when the plan is suddently not so convenient and payment is required, the repo man comes to take what’s his–whatever vital organ(s) that may be. There’s some more character specific plot, but that’s pretty much teh big picture gist. Oh and the whole show is sung thru as a rock opera.

You’d think that sort of thing would sound right up my alley, but I resisted for quite a while. Biggest reason is prolly because of it’s biggest claim to infamy: Paris Hilton has a strongly featured role. Turn off like whoa. Although, watching the film, she strangely fits. Her character is obsessed with her looks and addicted to surgery to drastic extremes. Makes you wonder if she identified with the character or was smartly playing with stereotypes. We’ll never know.

What changed my mind? Another bit of casting choices: Anthony Stewart Head (best known as Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Watcher Giles). Hearing his silky smooth voice in Once More With Feeling isn’t enough, and recordings of his turn as Frankenfurter in The Rocky Horror Show are hard to come by. This is the obtainable middle ground. and oh that voice. I could listen to him forever. He’s the one actor in this film that takes it most seriously. He never thinks he’s in a gimmick, but acts like he’s pretending he’s in Les Miserables. He alone is worth sitting thru this once.

The rest is such a mixed bag. Opera is hard to pull off because some dialog that is absolutely necessary just don’t flow right when set to music. And Repo suffers from a bit too much exposition (and we all know from Urinetown what that does to a show). Characters sing really random pieces of backstory at each other. While it’s (arguably) important information, it doesn’t always make sense in the context. Then the actual music is hit or miss too. Some of it is really rockin’ and some just sounds amateur.

The overall vibe is kinda weird. It feels like a misunderstood passion project by someone who thinks they’re entitled (that could also be why Paris fits in). The finish and feel is top quality, but there’s no substance. You can see where their budget was used to the fullest and where they had to skimp. The director is responsible for the later Saw movies, so you’ve certainly got that dark vibe, but something just feels half baked. Like it was approved because someone was someone important’s nephew. Yet the pieces that are good are really good. Again, I still can’t figure out whether or not I like this movie. I can’t decide if I wanna download the soundtrack or never listen to it again. But I do know this won’t have been the last time I watch it.”

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