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Movie Reviews

Repo The Genetic Opera



Released: November 20th 2008

Directed By: Darren Lynn Bousman

Starring: Paul Sorvino, Anthony Head

Certificate: 18

Reviewed By: Lewis Filer

If you take the music of Phantom of the Opera, the gore of the Saw franchise, a cast of well known actors and actresses from all walks of entertainment and then fuse them all together with a high octane, heavy rock opera soundtrack you get the incredible cult hit Repo The Genetic Opera.

Based on a play written by Darren Smith and Terrance Zdunich and directed by Saw 2,3 and 4’s Darren Lynn Bousman, Repo The Genetic Opera is not your typical musical.

Starring Buffy’s Anthony Head, Spy Kids’ Alexa Vega, opera sensation Sarah Brightman (Phantom of the Opera), horror legend Bill Mosely, Paul Sorvino (Goodfellas, Law and Order), Paris Hilton and many others, the cast of Repo the Genetic Opera is surely a diverse one.

Set in the year 2056 – the not so distant future – an epidemic of organ failures has devastated the planet. Out of the tragedy, a saviour emerges: GeneCo, a biotech company that offers organ transplants, both cosmetic and medical… but for a price. Those who miss their payments are scheduled for repossession and hunted by the villainous Repo Men, who take back the organ of the victim while they are still alive resulting in the ultimate payment…their lives. Those who can afford the payments become surgery addicts and get hooked on painkilling drugs from the black market.

GeneCo’s founder Rotti Largo (Sorvino) learns that he is has not got long left to live and must decide which of his three wretched children will inherit GeneCo and his legacy. Amber Sweet (Hilton) a surgery obsessed girl with an addiction to illegal painkillers and the need to be in the spotlight of the show, Pavi Largo (Nivek Ogre – Skinny Puppy) a sadist woman abuser who wears the faces of the women he kills, and Luigi Largo (Mosely) a high tempered and violent man who will kill anyone who even slightly upsets him.

Meanwhile, scientist by day/Repo Man by night Nathan Wallace (Head) cares for his sick daughter, Shilo Wallace (Vega) who is desperately searching for the cure to her own rare disease as well as information about her mother’s death and family’s mysterious history. After being sucked into the haunting world of GeneCo by Rotti Largo (Sorvino) she is unable to turn back, as all of her questions will be answered at the wildly anticipated spectacular event: The Genetic Opera.

A futuristic rock musical about organ repossession that also reaches into the genres of sci-fi, horror and gothic fantasy, sounds like a fun way to describe Repo The Genetic Opera, but this is one musical unlike any other. There are no happy love songs, no spontaneous dance numbers, just rock, gore and inter-weaving storylines that result in a revelation that fuel a blood-soaked finale. Key scenes told through animated comic book style panels help progress the story while slowly revealing clues to the history of the characters and how they got to where they are now.

With 80% of the movie’s dialogue sung, the main element of the movie is the music. Each song is different whether it be an all out show-stopping rock number or an operatic spectacle, and each one tells a story and accelerates the main story. It helps that the entire cast are all singers and some are actually brilliant! The show-stealer title definitely goes to Sarah Brightman who plays Opera Superstar Blind Mag and Shilo’s godmother. Some may remember Anthony Head’s Bowie-esque style vocals from the musical episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. He is given all the big rock numbers and pulls them off marvellously. Alexa Vega who sang songs for the Sky Kids movies is perfect for the pop-punk style songs used to tell the story of her sheltered life and her desperate wanting of escape. Other notable performances include Terrance Zdunich (who wrote the original play) who portrays the Graverobber character who sells illegal painkillers on the black market. He also acts as the narrator to the audience often singing directly to us and answering any questions we may have. Even Paris Hilton pulls off a decent performance as the spoiled daughter of GeneCo founder Rotti Largo.

The style of the film is beautiful, the decayed but futuristic city the story is set in is nothing short of mesmerizing, the only downside is that not enough of the city gets explored and leaves you wanting to see more of it.

The gore and special effects are brilliant, on a level with Bousman’s work on the Saw franchise. The script, which was adapted from a stage play, is almost entirely sung and because of this not all emotion is portrayed in key scenes but the music is good enough to let that go.

There is nothing much i can really say without giving away too much of the story. All i can say is that Repo The Genetic Opera is a fun, camp, low-budget, gory 90 minutes that could be spent doing far worse things. It will please a lot of people who are into the music and the gothic fantasy. It must also be remembered that it may not for everyone, but its surely worth a look at if you’re into cult films.

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