Repo! The Genetic Opera
Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman
It’s a shame when a concept as cool as the premise for Repo! The Genetic Opera is hobbled by a host of suspect execution choices. The director of the middle three Saw films delivers a movie screaming for cult appeal but fails to achieve it.
Saving on budget, the film opens with a comic storyboard depicting a rash of organ failures sweeping the world. GeneCo swoops in to save the day with replacement parts and payment plans for the unfortunate populous. The only catch is a law sneakily passed through congress that protects GeneCo’s right to repossess their property from clients who miss a payment. It implies repossession by any means necessary and GeneCo employs "Repo Men” to stalk and hack the organs out of tardy hosts.
Rotti Largo and his morally depraved offspring, Amber Sweet Luigi and Pavi, front GeneCo and are thus the most powerful family in the world. Paris Hilton is perfectly cast as Amber/herself in the future, a spoiled rich brat who can only barely hold pitch, addicted to plastic surgery and illegal painkillers extracted from corpses. Bill Moseley does his best to sell the bland psychosis of Luigi and Nivek Ogre of Skinny Puppy plays Pavi with a giddy mania suitable for a man who clips the skin of other faces over his own. Paul Sorvino is suitably garish as Rotti but with his introduction the film’s uncomfortable failings manifest.
This is an opera, so almost every word is sung but that doesn’t mean they’re sung well, or even in an interesting or pleasing way. Sorvino proves his classical pipes can deliver throughout the movie, so why does Bousman have him embarrassingly speaking in rhyme like a drunk Irishman trying to rap near the beginning?
It’s mostly the shortcomings of the music and the dialogue that hinder the film but Bousman’s gauzy fog permeating every frame also gets a bit distracting. Anthony Stewart Head as the conflicted Repo Man is fantastic however, easily carrying every scene he graces with better than needed acting chops and a powerful, capable and emotive voice.
Sadly, Repo! tries too hard to be a cult classic before legitimately succeeding where it counts.
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