Repo! – The Genetic Opera (2008)

Posted: March 4, 2011 in Movies

Repo! Is set in a dark and distant future where an epidemic of organ failures is wiping out humanity. Rotti Largo (Paul Sorvino) is the brilliant businessman behind GeneCo, a biotech industrial complex which supplies artificial organs to the disease ravaged world. Rotti is a driven man, a ruthless man, a heartbroken man. His betrothed, Marni (Sarah Power) leaves him for Nathan Wallace (Anthony Stewart Head of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame), a medical doctor. She marries him and quickly becomes pregnant with Shilo (Alexa Vega). But tragedy strikes the Wallace household. Marni becomes deathly ill before she is able to deliver Shilo. In a desperate attempt to save them both, Nathan works feverishly to find a cure. Alas, it seems that fate has not had its pound of flesh yet and the cure actually poisons Marni instead. Nathan, with no time to lose, takes Marni to his home operating theatre and cuts Shilo from the womb, killing Marni in the process.

Rotti, never wasting an opportunity, saves Nathan from a murder charge in return for a few small favours. Using his medical knowledge, Nathan must become the Repo Man and repossess organs from transplant recipients who have become deficient in their payments to GeneCo. So the musical begins…

First off, this movie was a hell-on-wheels visual extravaganza. If you want a movie that packs a powerhouse visual punch, see this one. Saturated colours abound; vibrant and diverse environments (graveyards, back alleys, the circus) are populated with any number of miscreants and vandals dressed in almost burlesque costumes or gothic faux vampire outfits; movement is transposed to creeping, almost insect like movements. The live action is interspersed with comic book visuals, helping to flesh out the story without the use of traditional exposition or voice-over.

Special effects-wise, there are some really fantastic uses of digital technology in Repo! such as the portraits around the Wallace household, which are three dimensional and lean out of their frames, and Blind Meg’s glowing, somber, film projecting eyes. While the movie is quite bloody, gore is kept to a minimum and that’s a plus for Repo! because the few physical effects we do see in the movie look rather rubbery and poorly researched, anatomically that is. That being said, all of it is pulled together with a smoky, chiaroscuro effect which softens hard lines and blends everything into a tantalizing visual stew. Think Moulin Rouge…on mescaline.

Secondly, touting itself as a rock opera, I found Repo! lacking in the whole “musical genre” department. While the songs were strong – backed by hard hitting industrial beats and distorted guitars – there were so damned many of them it was hard to tell where they ended and where they began. A little less singing and a little more dialogue would have really set off the strength of some of the tunes. The depth of feeling and storytelling through song got lost and muddled well before the end of the movie.

The soundtrack for this film can be downloaded Here

Another thing that I think will stop Repo! from garnering a really strong cult following is the lack of audience participation when it comes to singing opera. While the songs are good, they lack the catchy, quirky melodies and easy vocals of songs featured in hits like The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Little Shop of Horrors. It’s just more fun if you can sing along. The song setup in Repo! left me thinking I’d just watched a really long, high-budget, MTV rock video. Think Paul McCartney’s Give My Regards to Broadstreet meets the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Keep your eyes open for Paris Hilton (Amber Sweet), Bill Moseley (Luigi Largo) and Nivek Ogre (Pavi Largo) from the industrial band Skinny Puppy, as Paul Sorvino’s bickering, spoiled children. Nivek’s make up in the movie is really well produced and Paris’ performance as a coddled, talentless brat comes across as painfully honest – imagine that. Last but not least, Repo!’s writer/composer Terrance Zdunich’s performance as the streetwise Grave Robber who traffics in the transplant underground really pushes the creep factor through the roof.

All said, Repo! was a rollicking good time and worthy of a position in any horror fans collection.

IMDB: Link | Wiki: Link | Download (AVI): Here

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