The majority of film fans, fanatics or otherwise, are probably blissfully unaware that REPO: The Genetic Opera has finally made its way to Region 2 DVD this week. And to those movie-lovers whose first encounter with the picture is this review, you are the lucky majority.
Originally a stage show Darren Smith and Terrance Zdunich, REPO: The Genetic Opera can best be described as a sci-fi-horror-gothic-rock-opera hybrid. A genre I personally am not too familiar with. The premise is simple (kind of). In a future ravaged by organ failure, GeneCo offers artificial organs to patients in desperate need of a transplant. Those who can pay for the operation do so and hear nothing else, for those who cannot afford the surgery, they offer a payment plan. The catch however being that if a payment is missed, the organs will be repossessed in a pointlessly over-the-top and gruesome manner by the frankly absurd Repo-Man. Meanwhile the head of GeneCo, doomed to pass away rather soon, must make the hardest decision of his life. Which of his children should take over his flourishing business empire.
Under the helm of Darren Lynn Bousman, director of such atrocities as the second, third and forth instalments of the Saw franchise, REPO attempts to be so much more than it ever has to right to be. The burlesque inspired costume design demonstrates the projects yearning to be the next Rocky Horror Show, and the edgy take on the musical formula only seems to reinforce that fact. However at every single hurdle it comes to, REPO falls flat on its face.
The edgy burlesque element feels more trashy and camp than sexy and stylish, not helped of course by the trashy stylings of one Paris Hilton, while the music gives the audience the impression it was written and performed by a group of brain damaged chimpanzees with guitars. Songs such as a teen angst anthem about blood disease, featuring the cringe-worthy chorus of ?Why are my genetics such a bitch?? highlight the awful nature of this awful, awful film. You could of course argue that the music is intentionally bad to match the tone of rest of the film, but that would involve giving Twisted Pictures at least some amount of praise for thinking any of this through.
The opening titles and flashback sequences however are the diamonds in the rough. The comic book style used during the opening credits, and intermittently throughout to explain superfluous elements of plot, give the audience the false hope that some thought may have gone into the style of this film. The bleak representation of a future plagued by disease and rotting corpses seems genuinely frightening and eerily real during these well produced sequences. Unfortunately the visual representation of this future elsewhere in the picture places the audience firmly back into a world of disappointment as supposed to wonder, featuring heavy browns and blurry edges everywhere, a technique recognizable from Bousman’s terrible sequels to the frankly excellent Saw. Seriously, the rough is so deep here, its impossible to even notice the diamonds.
As far as the acting goes, Twisted Pictures may as well have employed the same chimpanzees they used to record the soundtrack. This film is all over the place. Paris Hilton, being an annoying, whiny, spoilt American, actually plays an annoying whiny, whiny, spoilt American and still manages to be unconvincing, while leading man Anthony Head embarrasses both himself and the audience with his bland and unintentionally comedic performance as the supposedly fearsome Repo-man.
Unfortunately however, its impossible not to admire the sheer lunacy behind the project. And as much as I hate to say it, there is a market for this film. Whether it is stoned teenagers who have nothing better to do, or angst riddled emotional kids with a love for sci-fi, horror and metal music, or simply chimpanzees who wish to feel superior to certain members of our species, some people will purchase this DVD. And they may even enjoy it. However personally, I seriously recommend you stay as far away from REPO: The Genetic Opera as is humanly possible.