Editor’s Note: I have now seen an official completed version of the film. My score still stands.
I just got home from seeing SHUTTER and I’m glad I waited to write my review of REPO! THE GENETIC OPERA until afterwards. Seeing that horrid piece of crap remake (SHUTTER) only further solidified my feelings of Darren Lynn Bousman’s horror rock opera, which is finally something fresh, unique and exciting in a world filled with crappy remake after crappy remake.
On March 4 (Happy Birthday to me!) I caught a test screening of REPO! and left the theater a little dizzy – and I’m not talking CLOVERFIELD dizzy. REPO! is a rock ‘em, sock ‘em sensory overload. The human brain simply cannot compute the film immediately, as it took me an entire night to let it all sink in. When I woke up the next morning, I knew exactly where I stood – and that’s fully behind this gutsy project, which should be appreciated on the mere fact that someone got it made.
So what the hell IS REPO!? In the not-so-distant future when an epidemic of organ failures devastates the planet, scientists gear for a massive organ harvest. A biotech giant comes up with easy organ payment plans, but all financed organs are subject to legal default, including repossession at the hands of repo men. Alexa Vega plays Shilo, a 17-year-old girl with a rare blood disease that killed her mother. Her father (Anthony Head) is secretly a repo man who works for Genco and is being blackmailed by it’s owner Rotti Largo (Paul Sorvino). Meanwhile, Rotti is dying and holds the key to many secrets and many lies, all while he’s trying to figure out who should take over his thrown. Should it be the insane Luigi (Bill Moseley), the drug-addicted Amber Sweet (Paris Hilton) or the surgery addicted Pavi (Nivek Ogre). All of these twisted tales are wrapped into one giant musical production that is REPO! THE GENTIC OPERA.
Stealing the show were Anthony Head, Bill Moseley, Alexa Vega and most of all, Sarah Brightman. This odd cast of characters gave the film a special flavor that only a Tarantino type film could deliver. Each character was developed so uniquely from their personalities to their backgrounds to their wardrobes. The film looked like a cross between BLADE RUNNER and ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW – and seemed like it could be taking place at any time, any year. The city design was very reminiscent of something you’d see in BLADE RUNNER, as there were floating digital billboards and bricked walls everywhere, while the final scene throws a little ROCKY HORROR flavor in your face by concluding on a stage.
While REPO! comes from the director of SAW II-IV, it must be clear that this is by no means a Jigsaw spin-off. There is no flash cutting and most of the shots are well thought out and incredible smooth. BUT, REPO! does in fact carry some intense violence and a bloody finale that’s not to be missed. You don’t want to miss your payment…
And what’s a review of REPO! without a little talk about the music? The sound design was remarkable (and it should be) and most of the songs were catchy and had me singing them in my head all night. And don’t even get me started on how cool (and random) Joan Jett’s cameo was.
I think what was so remarkable about REPO! was that the first thing I did when I woke up. I thought about how I wanted to stick the movie in my DVD player and watch it right then and there. It really festers with you and infects you, sort of dwelling in your subconscious for hours upon hours. It is a very rare thing when I can sit through an entire movie without squirming, but wanting to watch it more than once NEVER happens (you should see my tiny DVD collection, it’s all ‘80s movies). REPO! is a special treat, a film that should have never been, the bastard child of a studio, something that is so distinct that you can barely begin to compare it to anything else. If you’re a fan of musicals, I GUARANTEE that this will become a cult classic in your collection, for everyone else this is a unique film that – whether it’s good or bad – will give you a new theatrical experience. And that’s something special in this day and age.