Repo! The Genetic Opera

Saturday, February 27, 2010 8:15 AM By Simon , In , , ,

Have you ever seen a movie that's destined for cult following? The cheapies that hope to be the new Reservoir Dogs or Paranormal Activity or The Rocky Horror Picture Show. That, no matter how hard it tries, it'll never be accepted into the 'cool crowd' of the weekend boxm office, but will find life anew in DVD release? Midnight viewings, novelty costumes, the whole shebang?

This isn't really one of them. The budget's too big. That's not to say that a cult movie can't have a large budget, but here, it feels like they're expecting a Midnight-crowd cult following, feel entitled to it. It's, in fact, trying very, very hard to get a cult following. It may succeed, it may not. But the whole point of a cult movie is that the filmmakers don't expect, or want, cult fame. They are just trying to make a movie.

Well, on with the show. Repo! is about a dystopian future where, after an epidemic of organ failures, humanity is saved by business tycoon Rotti Largo (Paul Sorvino), who comes to town with his business, GeneCo, to provide organs to the needy populice. 26 years later, Shilo Wallace (Alexa Vega), is exiled in her house by her father Nathan (Anthony Stewart Head) and by her rare blood disease, which she inhereted from her dead mother Marni. She is sought by Rotti as a possible heir, as his own children, hotheaded Luigi (Bill Moseley), surgery-addicted Amber (Paris Hilton) and Pavi (Ogre), who always wears women's faces, he sees as unfit. All the while, Shilo's godmother, Blind Mag (Sarah Brightman) is in danger of loosing her eyes, on loan from GeneCO as long as she sings in the Genetic Opera. Oh, yeah, and Nathan is secretly the Repo Man, who, you guessed it, takes back the organs from people who've missed their payments. Because organs have become a trend, that you make payments on. Yeah.

Warning: When they say 'opera', they're not fucking around. It's not two scenes of dialogue, then a chereographed song-and-dance number. Almost every line in this movie is sung, to various degrees of talent, with just a few words that could be written off as small beats. The dancing isn't dancing so much as stylized, over-the-top movement. Okay?

Surprisingly, though, there's only two people who are either opera singers or are very good at faking it, Sarah Brightman (former) and Paul Sorvino (latter). Everyone else just kinda muddles along. Especially with mixed-results is Alexa Vega, who's fine in the more pop-y numbers, but struggles with the more bigvoice-oriented scenes. Paris Hilton is, of course, a big fat mess, but she has surprisingly few scenes that you can disregard, though she does manage to fuck up the otherwise gloriously earwormy and awesome number, 'Zydrate Anatomy', with the Graverobber (Terrence Zdunich), who serves as our host of sorts, breaking the fourth wall (with music!) for the mid-point and at the very end, and just basically hangs around being awesome. Bill Moseley and Ogre are both over the top, to various degrees of success, especially in their introduction song, "Mark It Up'. Anthony Stewart Head, too, is over the top to a ridiculous level, but it's cool, because a) he has a good voice, b) he's tortured after supposedly killing his wife (but it was an accident, caused by Rotti), and c) he's the Repo Man. He coddles his daughter, doesn't want to loose her, blah blah, it's actually very sweet. Sarah Brightman mostly sings, so she's fine.

On paper, this is the strangest cast ever: a Spy Kid, the lead singer of Skinny Puppy, an heiress who's noted for her suck, a former vampire slayer, an opera singer, a Devil's Reject, a Goodfella, the creator of the musical, and Joan Jett (cameoed in the song 'Seventeen'). But they pull it off, especially at the climax, the eponymous Genetic Opera, where everyone 'testifies' about how GeneCo saved their lives, it mixes between the rock-opera of the rest of the movie, and a bit of classical opera by Sarah Brightman.

Another somewhat glaring flaw is: they explain background information through living comics. Then, right after they finish saying what they need to say, they say it again, in live action. Seriously, they might as well not even have the comics, because they are repeated word-for-word with live reanactments.

The plot's a mess, the cast is mostly out of their element. Bu the songs are so awesome, and the Repo Man is so deliciously twisted (he plays macabre puppets with one of his victims), and the Graverobber is the greatest Master of Ceremonies ever. Everything is so over-the-top, and goth, and looks designed between Rocky Horror, Blade Runner, and Hot Topic. It's sci-fi, it's horror, it's comedy, it's musical, it's fucking sick, and, even if they tried very hard to have a cult following, I think they will succeed.

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December 2, 2012 at 12:03 AM