Repo! The Genetic Opera Review: Paris Hilton is… not bad?!
REPO! THE GENETIC OPERA: Available on DVD from Monday 9th March 2009
“Aren’t you so bored with all the remakes, the retreads and the endless sequels that have flooded our cinema screens? Aren’t you clamouring for something different?”
Hollywood’s 21st century obsession with Horror reboots and re-imaginings has grown witheringly tiresome, so hearing that valiant fan-rallying cry come from the mouth of a Director about to show you his latest – allegedly genre-exploding – horror movie should be cause for excitement.
Then you realise that these hypocritical words are dribbling forth from Darren Lynn Bousman, the same creative incontinent that directed Saw 2, 3 and 4.
And, whether you like it or not, your brain starts sharpening the ol’ critical mind-scalpels.
But as Repo!’s cyberpunk cartoon story boards start to roll out under a cacophony of industrialised, distorted guitar riffs, you twig pretty darn quickly that while the majority of movie-land tends to be built on PR guff (just look at Lesbian Vampire Killers), for better or worse, this genuinely is going to be unlike anything you’ve ever seen.
Repo! plays out in a near-future world teetering on complete societal breakdown. An epidemic of organ failures has devastated the planet, and biotech GeneCo has emerged as the planets saviour by tapping into the genetic loan market. Unfortunately for the punters, it has a late repayment policy that makes bailiffs look snuggly-wuggly in comparison: if you fail to pay up on time, the Repo Man will come for you and slice the loaned organs out of your still beating, blood-gushing body.
Like the operatic equivalent of Genital Herpes (graphic, stomach-turning and extremely viral), Repo! The Genetic Opera has somewhat auspicious, if not contagious beginnings. Studio execs attempted a creative back-alley abortion after it dawned on them that a gore-filled glam rock opera horror is unlikely to become the next High School Musical, and as a result the movie opened predominately on DVD. Yet its rabidly faithful fanbase resurrected it from the bargain bin mire and a fevered word-of-mouth campaign has kept it gurgling just under the radar.
And, depending on your tastes, deservedly so.
It’s important to make clear from the off that this is not a musical. Yes there’s singing, a couple of dance routines and a whole heap of melodrama, but structurally and musically, it’s undoubtedly an opera and the singing never, ever stops.
So it’s a good job they’ve hired a number of talented singer/actors. Paris Hilton and Sarah Brightman are perplexingly inoffensive and Anthony Head (Buffy, Little Britain) provides a manic star turn as the near bi-polar Repo Man; bringing to the table his very own Bale-Batman voice – all growly baritones as the aforementioned boogeyman, then soaring harmonies as he warbles about his family life, dead wife and Avril Lavigne-y daughter.
Just about the only way I can describe it is that it’s like being trapped on a fairground ghost train. Only they’re blaring out Bolero out of the speakers. And someone’s apparently laced your candyfloss with LSD.
Not all the songs are great and it completely comes down to not only leaving your disbelief at the door, but kicking it as far from the realms of normality as possible.
But if a satanic, feature length take on the Howard from the Halifax adverts – that sees Howard eviscerated 5 minutes in – is your thing, you’re onto a winner here.