Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008)
Directed by: Darren Lynn Bousman
Starring: Sarah Brightman, Anthony Stewart Head, Paris Hilton, Bill Moseley, Ogre, Paul Sorvino, Alexa Vega, Terrance Zdunich
The first thing you should know about Repo! The Genetic Opera is that the film is a Gothic Rock Opera that currently holds the record for the most songs ever composed into one film, so yes that means it is a musical. Set in the year 2056, Repo! opens up with an graphic novel styled intro detailing how a worldwide epidemic of organ failures has led to the emergence of a saviour in GeneCo and its founder Rotti Largo (Paul Sorvino). Rotti introduces organ financing so that needy recipients can get the life saving organs that they need while making payments on exorbitant surgeries (this is why Walmart should never be allowed in the medical racket).
Surgery becomes a fashion statement, which means in the future Jocelyn Wildenstein will blend in nicely. Unfortunately, this is about the same time that Rotti lobbies a bill through Congress that makes organ repossessions legal, so if you are unable to pay up, Rotti dispatches a Repo Man to come to take back said organs without the benefit of anesthetic (or any chance of survival for that matter). GeneCo has also developed and released a highly addictive and expensive painkiller that goes by the name Zydrate and has a street version that is harvested from the dead by Graverobbers.
The Largos rapidly become America’s most powerful family, but inside the walls of GeneCo, the Largo kids have a penchant for some naughty behavior. Luigi (Bill Moseley, who is always a horror fan favorite) has a quick to stab temper and a trail of bodies to prove it. Pavi (Ogre from Skinny Puppy) is a ladies man who likes to skin and wear women’s faces over his own. Scalpel slut Amber’s (Paris Hilton) rapidly changing appearance is possible through her addiction to street Zydrate which she procures via back ally transactions with the GraveRobber (Terrance Zdunich).
We’re then introduced to seventeen year old Shilo Wallace (Alexa Vega) and Nathan (Anthony Head), her physician father. Shilo is confined to her room by the overprotective Nathan due to a blood disease that she inherited from her late mother, Marni. Nathan struggles with guilt over not only losing his wife seventeen years prior, but as Rotti’s lead Repo Man, his duel life as a legal assassin. Shilo’s desire to find a cure to her disease – which will allow her to go out and experience life outside of her room and Nathan’s fear of losing his daughter – drive the operatic plot that is filled with twists and back stories.
The film is visually a lot of fun to watch, the costumes are a cross of Victorian and New Wave and the sets are a striking combination of Gothic and Futuristic. I don’t think there is one weak performance in the film and this includes Paris Hilton as Amber Sweet. The part is perfect for her, even if it is strange to see Sarah Brightman and Paris Hilton in a scene together (and hell, if you don’t like Paris, you can get the satisfaction of seeing her face fall off). I had no idea that Paul Sorvino is a classically-trained opera singer and he does an amazing job. Sarah Brightman gives a wonderful performance as Blind Mag, “The Voice of GeneCo”, and rounding out the top notch singing performances are Anthony Stewart Head, Alexa Vega, and Terrance Zdunich.
To be perfectly honest, the first time I watched the film, we rented it from Netflix and I sat there afterwards trying to figure out if I liked it or not. I’m generally not a huge fan of musicals and here was a musical that involved Anthony Head repossessing a spine (this of course was awesome). I think it was after having the song Zydrate Anatomy stuck in my head for a couple of days, that I decided the movie deserved a second look. After watching the movie again, I found that I enjoyed it even more the second time through (and subsequently the many times I have watched it since then). Inevitably, I purchased my own copy of the movie, along with both soundtracks, and have decided that it is very feasible that this movie has addictive properties.
Repo! The Genetic Opera‘s release was a little different from most horror films in that it never had a wide theatrical release and yet wasn’t direct to DVD. Repo! was released as a series of Road Tours, three which toured the U.S and one in Europe. However, after the DVD release, the movie picked up momentum and began gaining additional theatre showings along with shadow casts (groups of actors who enact the film in costume). You can check out Repo! The Genetic Opera on DVD or Blu-ray.