Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008)

repo_the_genetic_opera

Grunge is thick in the air within this rock operatic horror film. A futuristic and sci-fi theme play their cards too as songs and blood come thick and fast. These could be pretty interesting points but it all counts for nothing in an odd and disengaging pulp cult attempt.

Organ problems and failures in repayments have paved the way for GeneCo to rise up in 2056, giving people organ replacements but if they can’t pay back then the Repo men will come after you and take them off you…alive. GeneCo is led by Rotti Largo (Paul Sorvino) who won’t be around much longer leaving his image obsessed offspring fighting for power. A father called Nathan Wallace (Anthony Head) connected to Rotti, is caring for his sick daughter Shilo (Alexa Vega) and soon stories bleed into one another.

Based on a 2002 musical by Darren Smith and Terrance Zdunich, this does boast some out there ideas and grimy sounds but what on paper could have been the modern day ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’ doesn’t come into action like that and feels lacking of proper story and after a while the Goth like song stylings become tiresome. The way this film adaptation takes on the plot with some neat comic book visuals is cool and reminiscent of the graphic novel methods of ‘Sin City’ but that is perhaps the only link.

Smith and Zdunich are also on duty for the music and here, some more positives can be noted. I liked the songs, or at least after some time I grew to appreciate the sounds before growing tired of them once again. The way a good many of the songs layer over one another, with different stars echoing their parts of the track onto the titles gives the rocky booms more depth. A song playing out in the run up to the opera features like the grand One Day More aspect of proceedings.

It’s obvious to see that the director and production crew are working hard to create something different and working off of the source material they do a good job in mastering something against the norm. The team have as many guts pulling this off as the amount of bodily pieces ripped from victims within the movie. The camera spiraling round choir sounding advertising towers or Gothic locations filled with mist and darkness all help give this 2008 musical a defined edge of inventive yet off putting feelings.

Anthony Head proves he has a voice for singing as well as a calm assured acting demeanor. Switching from nice to mean in flicks of a lyric, Head is a solid lead to play the shady nice guy. Alexa Vega brings along a pop sound to her vocals, the more Britney or Tay-Tay sweetness as she sings. This is done nicely and then wham, she’s joined by Joan Jett for a funky rock number where she riffs out in skimpy clothes showing the yang to her previous yin. Terrance Zdunich is one of the stand outs, as should be expected considering it’s half his baby. As the gravel toned hypnotic sounding Graverobber he steals a lot of the songs, especially in the pacy Zydrate Anatomy.  Sarah Brightman of course has the opera background to excel and does so in her small-ish role as Blind Mag. Going along with her shining and holographic eyes Brightman is like a steam punk vision of the future tainted with agonising debt. Paris Hilton isn’t even too bad in this film, playing what Hilton would be expected to play as vain surgery loving rich daughter. She can hold a tune and doesn’t act awful, in fact the acting isn’t bad in this gross out film.

Too many songs and a try hard attitude fail to ignite any musical sparks, in fact the sci-fi/musical and horror angles make the film fall flat. It’s fun in places and looks the part but apart from a brief space of enjoyable songs Repo should be repossessed for being unnerving in all the wrong ways.

4.5/10

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