Opening Friday, November 7th
Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman
Repo is the story of the Largo family where, during the time of a global epidemic, head of the family Rotti Largo (Paul Sorvino) took it upon himself to start GeneCo., a company that finances organ transplants to those who need them, which is just about everyone. The catch is that virtually everyone seems to be poor and can’t make their payments and so Repo Men, namely Nathan Wallace, (Anthony Stewart Head) head on over to collect. Ex-doctor and father to Shilo (Spy Kids star Alexa Vega), Nathan’s troubled past with Rotti Largo led him to his employment with GeneCo. With Shilo confined to her room due to a rare blood disorder, Rotti offers to help her but not without his own motives. The GeneCo estate is soon to be up for grabs as Rotti is terminally ill and no transplant can save his life. His three children Luigi (Bill Moseley), Amber Sweet (Paris Hilton) and Pavi (Nivek Ogre of the infamous Skinny Puppy) are all pining over inheritance but none of them will get a dime if Shilo is the one deemed in the will. Why? Well, I won’t spoil that for you but it is that what will eventually lead to the epic ending of song, blood and mayhem.
With not a single line of spoken dialogue, Repo can be auditory candy if you enjoy a gothic twist to a Britney Spears track. Composed by Darren Smith and Terrance Zdunich, there are only a handful of songs that stand apart from the others and they are all sung by Anthony Head who I found tent-poled the whole film. Alexa puts on the performance that you would expect but there were times where I felt embarrassed. Namely a scene involving Joan Jett; it felt far too much like a glorified MTV music video. Sarah Brightman as Blind Mag, the star attraction of the opera is surprisingly fun to watch with an incredible voice.
The maniacal Largo siblings are refreshing as they fight over control of the company. Paris Hilton is the Zydrate and surgery addicted daughter of Rotti. She’s tolerable but I still humbly decree that she should not have been cast in it, the tabloid queen is too much of a household name that few people take seriously and it pulls you out of the film when she’s up there. Nivek Ogre was sadly underused in the film. As the front man of Skinny Puppy and his solo band ohGr you would think that he would be given more screen time! Lastly, there is Bill Moseley as the psychotic son who kills without a thought. He actually doesn’t have much screen time either. A shame.
Repo! The Genetic Opera is a very ambitious film that did or did not fail depending on the viewer. There are times where the nature of the film falls flat for something trying to encompass so much. The set design is fantastic even though most of the film takes place in a handful of key locations; an aesthetic akin to Blade Runner in a goth opera performance piece. As for the songs themselves, I found them to be rather disjointed and not melodic at all. It felt far too much as if they were just elongating each word that was spoken into a drawn out-silly conversation.
What this film really boils down to in terms of enjoyment is this. If you think you can enjoy an oddball musical that is heavily, unabashedly drenched in the gothic subculture than check this out. Kudos to the cast and crew but this is certainly a film that could have used some more polish.