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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Repo! The Genetic Opera

Posted by Courtney Ferguson on Wed, Nov 12, 2008 at 1:27 PM

A perfect indication of what you're in for with Repo! The Genetic Opera: On Monday at Portland's only screening, the Clinton Street Theater was packed to the too-small leather-pants gills with chubby corset-wearing Lovecraftians... and they were all wearing glow sticks around their necks. It was like if your older, nerdier sister blew her entire summer's worth of babysitting money at Hot Topic. But I don't want to get too caught up in slagging on grown-up Rocky Horror nerds... let's talk Repo!

The blood-feud operatics of director Darren Lynn Bousman's self-described cult film are ambitious indeed. This is a rock opera, with nary a spoken word in sight. The hit-and-miss score assaults the eardrums for nearly 100 minutes, with a cheesy, melodramatic, yet likeable soundtrack. In Repo!'s near future, the world's population is dependant on life-sustaining organ transplants supplied by the GeneCo corporation. But if you miss a payment on your new kidney, GeneCo's repo man sweeps in to repossess. In a world where necessary and gratuitous surgeries are the fashion, it seems to have made all the denizens very prone to dressing in black and wearing oodles of eyeliner--apparently the future is a Fall Out Boy concert.

Peep the trailer and read more after the jump.

Giles (ahem, Anthony Stewart Head) is the titular repo man who reluctantly chases down organs in foreclosure, while his gothy 17-year-old daughter Shilo (Alexa Vega) languishes in her bedroom of a mysterious blood disease. House-ridden Shilo often sneaks down to her mother's mausoleum to gripe and sing about her angsty misfortune, while Giles secretly guts people in his free time. But when Shilo wanders out into the city she gets entangled with the likes of GeneCo's president Rotti Largo (Paul Sorvino), who had more than a passing interest in her long-dead mother. His three power-hungry kids (Paris Hilton, Skinny Puppy's Ogre, and Bill Moseley) bicker over who will inherit GeneCo and all the while the city looks forward to the corporation's upcoming opera.

Not everyone's cuppa tea, Repo! is for the Phantom of the Paradise Brian De Palma fans, rather than the Scarface aficionados. Nearly two hours of dubious "rock," can make even the gnarliest of theater kids throw up their jazz hands in disgust. But what Repo! lacks in chops, it makes up for in ambition with brilliant sets, an interesting plot, a great performance by Giles and fun showings by Ogre and Paris Hilton (who is surprisingly good as a spoiled, whiny heiress who makes her singing debut only to have her surgically bludgeoned face fall off), and enough nods to traditional opera that it succeeds in its goals far more than the voices fall flat. In a similar vein to Dario Argento's Opera, you can combine enough blood 'n' guts to make a night at the opera seem interesting.

Repo! The Genetic Opera is based on co-writers Darren Smith and Terrance Zdunich's long-running play and they also wrote the screenplay. Directed by Saw sequel maven Bousman, the film has been on a seven-city road tour. For some reason, which has utterly escaped me, nearly half of the theater at the Clinton St. had already seen the newly released film. The Repo! creators who were in attendance for a Q&A asked all the "virgins" to raise their hands and it looked like we were almost in the minority. How did all these affable nerds see this already? Based on a nonexistent marketing budget from the Lionsgate studio, Bousman, Smith, and Zdunich have been promoting the shit outta Repo! Judging by all the corsets and leather pants and glow sticks in the audience, their efforts seem to be working.

Repo! The Genetic Opera comes out on DVD in January. And there's bound to be another screening in Portland before then.

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