Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008)


repobd3dAs much as I hate the saying – this film is one of those “love it or hate it” films. It certainly has a cult following and certainly has an audience that won’t understand it.

From the director of Saw II, III, and IV, Darren Lynn Bousman, comes one of the strangest and oddest rock operas of all time and can be summed up like so: “Blood! Guts! Singing! Paris Hilton! Sluts! Swear Words! Blade Runner meets Rocky Horror!”

The film is a bit hard to summarise so I’ll try my darndest to summarise it more eloquently than above. In the not-too-distant future, organ replacement has become commonplace as well as plastic surgery thanks to an addictive drug called zydrate, extracted from dead bodies left over from the company that provides organ transplant reposession schemes – GeneCo. You don’t pay for that new ticker of yours – they send out the Repo Man to collect that ticker, then throw your body in the dark abyss of bodies from all of those victims who “forgot” to pay GeneCo. Caught in this mess of a dystopia is little Shilo Wallace (Alexa Vega of Spy Kids fame) who has a rare blood condition which is being taken care of by her dad (Anthony Stewart-Head, Giles from Buffy) who in a Greek tragedy turn of events is also one of GeneCo’s Repo Men. There is substantial supporting characters in this film which my summary would become way too convuluted should I regurgitate the information, you’ll just need to see the film for yourself.

Yet another corny film from LionsGate, but this one is genuinely played for laughs. It’s like Saw, Blade Runner and Rocky Horror got together and somehow had a baby.

As far as I know, this film had little to no promotion from LionsGate on the grounds that it doesn’t have an audience. How wrong they were – there is definitely an audience out there for it. It’s glowy, gory, singy fun and it should be quite fun for those who it does appeal to.

As far as performances go, this isn’t Oscar-winning stuff, but very believable acting nonetheless, but let’s keep in mind the fact it’s a gory sci-fi musical, shall we? One of the real surprises was Sarah Brightman as Blind Mag, a “sold-soul-to-devil” character working for GeneCo who plays her character with a strange sadness and inevitability in it all. Her piece with Alex Vega, Chase the Morning, is beautiful and gets so much information across that it is hard to ignore it once you’ve seen it.

Quite a few of the songs are pretty catchy, especially Zydrate Anatomy, which is sung like a Barney song with a call-and-response structure between GraveRobber, Shilo, Amber Sweet (Paris Hilton), and a lot of zydrate addicts. Another stand-out piece is “Chase The Morning”, as mentioned in the previous paragraph, which is just a beautiful piece because it, too, is catchy and also builds this connection between Shilo and Mag, which, unfortunately, doesn’t last very long as Nathan, Shilo’s dad, comes in tossing her out.

This film is a true labour of love for all involved, and unfortunately, it shows in a few places within the film, and definitely on the Blu-Ray disc. Check out the paper Grave Robber (original stage production co-writer and Grave Robber, Terrance Zdunich) which says “BLOOD FUED”, not Blood Feud. There is also a spelling error in the credits for the “PRODUCITON TEAM”, but who cares about the credits?

The features, where to begin? Unfortunately, one of the worst parts of the Blu-Ray disc is some featurettes that were on the film’s website, but not upgraded or redone or anything, so it looks exactly like you’re watching it on the website, plus the sound for them is horrible. The commentaries, two of them, are really entertaining as there is a true sense of comradery among the cast and crew, and go into stories behind the production and promotion of the film. Sing-A-Long tracks are also provided as well, but I didn’t see much use of them, I already know the songs off by heart (most of them anyway), there are also selected scenes and deleted scenes with commentary by Darren Lynn Bousman and Paris Hilton which don’t really provide any informational or entertainment value at all, plus a GeneCo poster gallery.

The film is a bizarre tragedy with some upbeat tunes and amazing visuals. I truly hope this finds its audience as I so desperately want to see a sequel. Three-and-a-half.