By fusing THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW and BLADE RUNNER, this futuristic tale of horror modernizes the “rock opera” genre with original music and rich, dark production design.
Likening Repo! The Genetic Opera to its predecessors, Little Shop of Horrors and Rocky Horror Picture Show, conveys this film’s high camp and operatic bursts of song, but does little to describe how absolutely ordinary Repo! is. Like Rocky Horror, Repo! was written for stage performance by Darren Smith and Terrance Zdunich, who stars as a Graverobber, dolled up in vampiric makeup to resemble Rocky Horror’s iconic tranny, Dr. Frank-N-Furter. Hiring newbie director, Darren Lynn Bousman, fresh out of film school to shoot this mutant movie, Smith and Zdunich clearly focused on writing comedy into extremely gruesome slasher scenes, which works with mixed results. Stills of comic strips contextualize every scene, telling the story of biotech corporation Geneco’s repossessions of organs that they implanted into quite a lot of patients to save human lives all the way through a long history of operations. Organs, here, were bought on credit, and because the economy nosedives, citizens of this a makeshift Gotham City cannot pay bills, and will have to forfeit their lives to repo men make a killing around town, literally. Heading this enterprise is CEO Rotti Largo (Paul Sorvino), who has two bickering sons, Luigi (Bill Moseley) and Pavi (Nivek Ogre), whose white facemask is third generation Phantom, borrowing straight away from Winslow Leach’s in Brian De Palma’s Phantom of the Paradise. Central to the plot is head repo guy/slaughterer, Nathan Wallace (Anthony Head of Buffy the Vampire Slayer), who hides his career path to preserve his sexy teenage daughter, Shilo’s (Alexa Vega), innocence. As Shilo discovers her godmom, Blind Mag (Sarah Brightman), and the “Z”-addicted surgery slut, Amber Sweet (Paris Hilton), she embarks on adventures through an urban landscape constructed of metal gear, corpse piles, and S/M zombie girls, whilst dad straps people up in his torture chamber to take back body parts. Hmmmm. Since Repo! looks likes a Marilyn Manson video, its musical niche sensibility will only appeal to fans who like Goth and Industrial music. To any individual who doesn’t go for that look, it does impress for its sheer dedication to choreography and song. In the slightest degree, Repo! The Genetic Opera is an anomalous glimpse into visionary horror. —Trinie Dalton