The futuristic “Repo! The Genetic Opera” hits some good notes, but never quite assembles itself into a coherent melody. I viewed “Repo!” during its advance screening at I.V. Theater last Wednesday. The film will hit theaters next Friday.
The experience of the movie can be somewhat summed up in the following manner: dystopian future + repossessions of organs + the producers of “Saw” + rock opera + Paris Hilton = “What the fuck?”
From the opening of the film, it becomes clear that you will either love it or hate it. Though it succeeds on some levels and does not quite satisfy on others, it cannot be denied that “Repo!” is one of the most aggressively original films to come out in a while.
The opening narration informs us that the future of mankind will be plagued by widespread organ failure. Out of this chaos, a company by the name of GeneCo emerges, providing the service of emergency organ replacement. There is one catch, however: If a patient is late in paying off their dues, GeneCo sends out the Repo Men to take back the replacement organ.
Nathan Wallace (Anthony Stewart Head of TV’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”), a.k.a. the Repo Man, has to come to terms with his violent occupation while hiding this truth from his daughter, Shiloh (Alexa Vega of “Spy Kids”). When the film is not expanding on its nightmarish vision of the future, the Repo Man’s professional life begins to conflict with his personal life in a truly tragic form.
Did I mention that all the dialogue is sung?
One of the film’s biggest problems is that it has too many things going on in it. Instead of elaborating on the many sci-fi themes the film superficially brings up, the film is content to graze over them in order to leave some room for the explosion of conflicts and musical numbers that are crammed into its 1 hr. 37 min. run time.
It is as if the creators decided to throw in disparate elements because they simply felt like it. Not that this is necessarily wrong, but this process sometimes takes center stage instead of the absurdity of the unorthodox mixture.
In addition to some awkward editing and pacing, the filmmakers fail to set a coherent tone. The audience is not quite sure whether to get into the action or to laugh at it. The viewer cannot discern whether the filmmakers made “Repo!” tongue-in-cheek.
It cannot be denied, however, that this project is a product of a labor of love of all those involved, as the Q&A session after the film made clear.
The story was originally conceived for the stage, and bringing it to the screen took a decade, after one of director Darren Lynn Bousman’s (of several of the “Saw” films) incessant attempts to pitch the project fell through. The film’s cast even worked for free, helping to create quite an expansive product from such a low budget.
While not quite a crowd pleaser, the audience for a film of this sort is definitely out there. If you care to see something original, by all means, see this movie.
And keep a look out for the film entitled “Repossession Mambo” starring Jude Law that will be released sometime next year. The premise is a little too similar for comfort.