Thursday, January 29, 2009

Repo!: The Genetic Opera

Last week saw the DVD release of the film Repo! The Genetic Opera. The film has been getting lots of buzz on horror message boards and is supposedly well on its way to cult status. Last Friday I was out clubbing and the DJ was silently projecting the movie on a wall along the dance-floor while playing other music. What I saw was very visually interesting, so I decided to check out the film for myself.

I watched it this week and apparently I was better off watching the movie without its own sound. It was far far better as just a visual as other peoples' music was played over it. Repo! is a rock opera with the stress being on opera rather than on rock. The entire film is sung with no regular dialogue. Often the varying singing styles and lyrics crash against each other during the scenes. The music is weak and even at its best moments reaches only mediocre levels.

The casting for the film is interesting and surreal. Seeing Paul (Goodfellas) Sorvino, Bill (The Devil's Rejects) Moseley, Nivek Ogre (of the band Skinny Puppy), Anthony (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) Stewart Head, Alexa (Spy Kids) Vega and Paris (Isn't her 15 minutes up yet?) Hilton singing together. Add in that all of them are dressed like models for Hot Topic and the amount of blood and gore used in the movie and you have a pretty weird spectacle. It is pretty sad when there is an excellent vocalist like Anthony Stewart Head in the cast and even his songs are lackluster at best.

My friend John Dedeke described the visual look of the film as being a cross between Moulin Rouge and Blade Runner. This is pretty accurate. I'd say that there is a dash of Tim Burton, The Crow and Interview with a Vampire in the look as well. Overall, the art and set design (and some of the costume and makeup as well) are the only real success in the movie. This should be no surprise since the film comes from Twisted Pictures. This is the company that gave us the silly, increasingly incomprehensible and dull Saw movies. These are people who have consistently shown strength in their style and weakness in plot.

One of the other things that bothered me while watching the movie was its use of comic panels to tell flashbacks and other aspects of the story. The comic panels were slick-looking but repeatedly told stories that were told all over again through song and performances by live actors immediately following the comics. It is pointlessly redundant and leads to a continuously boring feeling of deja vu.

I've been hearing comparisons between Repo! The Genetic Opera and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I just don't see Repo developing the following that Rocky has. Rocky at least had some catchy songs. If any recent musical stands a chance of developing a Rocky Horror-type following it will be Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. Dr. Horrible had to have had a far lower budget than Repo, yet it is far more watchable (and listenable).

If you want to watch a musical with some blood, check out Snuffed! The Musical. It's only 8 minutes in length, has me in a bit part as the forgotten Baldwin brother, and despite being created completely in under 48 hours with no budget and a cast that mostly hasn't been musically trained (and didn't even know they were making a musical until hours before filming began)... it manages to have more memorable songs than Repo! The Genetic Opera.


thebonebreaker said...

I have to disagree with you on this one Tom. . .

I found Repo! to be very enjoyable - I thought there were several catchy tunes and the story was more in-depth than I had expected - but, to each his own, right?

I am off to check out Snuffed! :-)

brian said...

Completely agree with you about the music. They needed a better songwriter. Visually, it was cool but not really anything we haven't seen before (Blade Runner comes to mind). I don't know, I had a hard time getting into it. I did like Sarah Brightman and one or two songs in the middle held my attention. it was a nice try I guess.