To NetflixIt...or to NOTflixit? "Repo! The Genetic Opera" Movie Review

2/03/2010 Posted by Admin

By our guest blogger, Jeremy Wilkinson

Prior to its release in 2008, “Repo! The Genetic Opera” put up two songs on their Web site to gain attention. The song "Zydrate Anatomy" was a dark, catchy song that set the bar a little high for the movie. The other song, “Mark it Up,” was sub-par. It was supposed to be comedic, but ended up being funny because it was awkward. Variance in quality is a major problem with the whole movie. Parts of it are done beautifully, while other parts falter.

The plot:  During the mid-21st century, organ failures become an epidemic. GeneCo, a company specializing in synthetic organs, rises up to give people the replacements they desperately need…albeit for a price. The organs work wonderfully, but if you don’t pay up, Repo Man comes to take back company property. Nathan (Anthony Stewart Head) is one of the Repo Men. He has a daughter, Shilo (Alexa Vega), who has a blood disease and he tries his best to keep it in check with medication. He orders her to stay in her room for her own good and tries to keep his dark job a secret. But she disobeys her father’s orders and tries to seek out a cure for herself.

This movie oozes with style, which is both a blessing and a curse. The costumes and sets look great. Everything just feels “cool.” The atmosphere sucks you into the film. However, the focus on style leaves less room for substance. One could see the film and ponder the dangers of rampant plastic surgery and mega corporations, but this movie isn't high art.

The film shows its variance in quality from the get go. When it begins, comic book panels tell the audience of the organ failures and GeneCo’s rise to power. It doesn’t look bad--in fact, it’s a neat way to fill in the viewer. But then we cut to a graveyard where Shilo is visiting her mother’s tomb and then encounters the GraveRobber (Terrance Zdunich). Based off his name, you can guess why he’s there. He ends up drawing attention to them by yelling out while there are cops nearby. That makes no sense and only serves as a plot device to get Shilo back in her bed. There are multiple head scratching moments like this.

"Repo!" stays true to its title by having the characters sing almost all of their dialogue. Parts of the film are bogged down due to poor songwriting. I often wished the film was a musical instead of an ‘opera.’ There are multiple lines that lose their effectiveness by being sung instead of spoken. In addition, some of the cast are not very good at singing (Paris Hilton, for example). Alexa Vega does her best and shows glimmers of real talent in places, but she seems to hold back with most of her singing. Paul Sorvino, who play GeneCo founder Rotti Largo, is the best of the bunch. But, again, great singing can’t make up for poor writing.

"Repo!" is a violent, stylized opera that impresses just as often as it fails. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is a saving grace for the film. But even then, it’s still not a great film. It’s the kind of film non-horror fans would consider a guilty pleasure at best. You need to be in the right mindset to enjoy the movie.

Grade for gorehounds and horror fans: B-
Grade for everyone else: D

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