Tuesday, 11 September 2012

12/08/2012: Repo! The Genetic Opera [2008]

Everyone knows that the biggest cult movie phenomenon is The Rocky Horror Picture Show. For over 35 years it has been the horror rock musical of choice, attracting many a costumed viewer to it's midnight showings. However, in 2008 the guys responsible for Saw gave the world a new rock opera horror musical. One they hope will become as big a cult phenomenon as The Rocky Horror Picture Show. While it is to early to tell, I think it has a decent shot. Because it was pretty damn awesome.

Now, I'm not going to debate whether or not Repo! The Genetic Opera has become a cult classic on the level of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Everyone knows that cult classics doesn't happen over night, nor do they often happen when they claim themselves to be. Cult fans like to choose for themselves what will become a cult classic and not be told what will be. Right now, Repo! sits at a 6.4 rating on IMDb and a 34% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. If you are going to become a cult classic this is a pretty standard outcome, poor ratings by critics and the masses, but when you go and read the individual reviews written on IMDb they are all extremely high and filled with raving fans. That is probably similar to how my review will turn out, but for right now, we will just have to wait and see if this becomes a cult classic.

Repo! The Genetic Opera is just that, an opera. Or more accurately a rock opera and that there is the extent of my knowledge on opera. I'm deducing that the difference between opera and musical is that in the later, people just spontaneously break into song and dance, while generally not really moving the plot forward, just embellishing on some point. An opera on the other hand, is sung in it's entirety. There are no conversations, and only the occasional spoken sentence, the entire movies dialogue occurs through song. I'll say that is impressive and fun and I loved it. I have never seen an opera, but I have seen quite a few musicals. Many are well done, but let's just say Grease doesn't rate very high in my book. But a Rock Opera? That is just right up my alley, and I am without a doubt going to get the soundtrack so I can play it all the time.

...from too many broken hearts.
Do you know why a rock opera works so well at making a movie exciting? Because a soundtrack can be the key to making a great movie. By now everyone knows the name of Hanz Zimmer. Imagine watching Inception or The Dark Knight without his amazing soundtrack. The soundtrack defines the mood and emotion of a scene just as much, or possibly more than anything else occurring. Epic soundtracks mark epic and exciting moments, while sad or slow ones mark sad and dramatic moments. Imagine now, if your entire movie is soundtrack. Not just a sound in the background silently influencing you, but everything. From the dialogue to the characters movement, the music defines it all, effectively making almost every minute of the movie it's own epic emotional moment.

To compliment this unique and refreshing audio experience is of course a nearly psychedelic visual experience as well. While the movie does use a fair amount of CGI, It is easy to accept as part of the style of the movie, especially when combined with the comic panels inserted throughout the movie. Used to tell the backstory of a number of characters as well as prologue and epilogue the movie, the comic strips are a work of art themselves and complements the movie's visuals aesthetic. Repo! may not have the drag queen costumes of TRHPS, but it does have it's own unique style. Set in the future, everyone is dressed rather gothic and goth-like, and while I'm not describing it very well I thought it looked awesome and fit the movie perfectly. The entire set was actually constructed on one sound stage, so everything is created specifically for the movie, and looks rather cool. I'd also like to tip my hat to the guys in the lighting department, wonderful job and I love whenever a movie lights an entire scene with red or blue overtones, it's a favourite style of mine.

Afro-Skeleton is quite the character eh?
So, not only is Repo! unique in it's appearance, style, and rock opera medium but also it's story. Or at least it was. Since, Repo!'s release, a 2010 movie called Repo Men has been released starring Jude Law. While the story is different, the world of organ transplant repossession is generally the same, as are it's moral ambiguities. I won't getting into a pissing match about who ripped off who, because in the end there is a short story somewhere which probably inspired them both. Eitherway, the idea is a great one, and the more exploring the concept the merrier. While Repo Men really got into the morality of it all, and does better in that aspect, Repo! creates a much more fun, comic book/ graphic novel type of world for it and generally leaves it up to you to ponder the legality of things yourself.

Darren Lynn Bousman is the director of Repo! and is mostly known for directing Saw 2, 3, and 4. This is probably the reason for the notable amount of gore in Repo! but hey, when you're repossessing someone's liver things are bound to get messy. The casting choices for Repo! are very interesting, and yet very well done, with all the performances impressive ones, especially since everyone is you know... kind of fucking singing all their lines. The biggest surprise is when you do a double take and go, is Amber Sweet played by Paris Hilton? You're not wrong. While originally, Bousman wouldn't even let her audition, he gave her a chance and I'd say she nailed it. This can be the one good thing she has done and we'll leave it there. Paul Sorvino and Anthony Head do very well in there roles as well, although they aren't big names. Also, we always wonder what happened to child stars like Alexa Vega from Spy Kids, and I can safely say she is making a bit of a comeback. Alexa stars as Shilo in Repo! and is now cast in Machete Kills, as well as having been in a few horror movies also done by Bousman lately. Will she climb back to the top? Maybe if we get another Repo!.

This guy couldn't rhyme to save his life. I mean anatomy and surgery? It sounded good though.
Now, four years is a long time to hear nothing about a sequel. It is not the longest, nor is it certain not to happen but things just don't look to good at that point. Apparently, Repo! The Genetic Opera was supposed to be the first in a trilogy, which I think would be amazing. As always, I'd assume that because it didn't do as well as the studio hoped a sequel wasn't considered, but you wanted to make a cult classic. Cult classic is not synonymous with instant boatloads of cash. It is synonymous with long term sales and a dedicated fan base. While I'm sure everyone was game in 2008 for a sequel, I'm sure that over time the cast and crew have only drifted different ways and a sequel let alone the trilogy has little chance. Which is once again a shame, because I'm sure that the amount of costumed fans who came out to see it would have been amazing.

So, in the end, like all great cult classics, the fans are left to rewatch the movie over and over again as we think of what could have been. Maybe one day we will get more but for now, Repo! The Genetic Opera is just one more great and stunningly original movie with it's unique horror rock opera premise that we can enjoy for years to come. I will definitely be watching this with some friends again soon, and I also have to educate a few of them on the original horror musical cult classic, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which I actually intend to watch tomorrow/tonight just because Repo! has put me in the mood.

Repo! The Genetic Opera IMDb

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