Repo! The Genetic Opera is the must-see horror flick of the year. Cited as Rocky Horror meets Bladerunner, Sarah Brightman of Phantom of the Opera fame stars along with Anthony Head (Giles from Buffy). Featured at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival (where it won the silver audience award for best feature), Repo! already has a significant fan base, despite naysayers who frankly just don’t understand the term “rock opera”. (For those who think it is a genre of music, “opera” is simply a drama set to music). Repo! is already a cult favourite and I predict, in ten years’ time, it will be a cult classic surpassing The Rocky Horror Picture Show. For one thing, the soundtrack for the movie is excellent and showcases different music genres with a hard edge that mesh well with the movie’s macabre ambiance. Repo! is an excellent movie if you have a taste for the macabre and musicals. If you don’t like musicals, well… you can just watch Saw (Repo! and Saw are both directed by Darren Lynn Bousman). No one says you have to watch anything you don’t like. Oh, and by definition, a cult film won’t be popular amongst the masses. (Okay, that was just me ranting about negative reviewers for this movie who frankly should just admit they don’t like rock operas or sci-fi movies instead of giving a movie a bad review for no good reason. I’m done ranting now, I think…) Repo! is more stylish (being cyberpunk) than Rocky Horror and the story itself is much less absurd and silly. (I kind of think of Repo! as Phantom of the Opera mixed with Chronicles of Riddick for some reason.)
Having seen the trailer on the Toronto After Dark Film Festival website, I decided to be one of the first to see this new rock opera. Prior to seeing the movie, I had been listening to the soundtrack for about two weeks and I was hooked already. Some of my favourite tracks are “At the Opera Tonight”, “Zydrate Anatomy”, “I Didn’t Know I’d Love You So Much” (which I thought would make me cry during the movie, and of course, “it did, it did”), “Chase the Morning”, “Legal Assassin”, and “We Started This Opera Sh*t”. Sarah Brightman’s performance of “Chromaggia” on the soundtrack and in the movie is comparable to her younger Phantom of the Opera days, and if you’re a big fan of Phantom of the Opera (I happen to be), you’ll love watching Sarah Brightman (as Blind Mag) in this movie. One of the best scenes in the movie occurs during “Chase the Morning” where we are shown exactly what Blind Mag’s eyes do. For a review of the soundtrack, see “Metro Spirit: CD Reviews – Repo! The Genetic Opera soundtrack”.
As I mentioned, the one song that made me cry during the movie was “I Didn’t Know I’d Love You So Much”, which is a duet between the daughter (Shilo) and the father (Nathan/Repo Man) in the movie. This song pretty much sums up the outcome of the movie and probably one of the major themes of the movie, the love between a father and his daughter. Everything else in the movie is external to the main story, but pushes it along. It’s important to make this distinction as it seems many people mistake the background to be the story. The background to this story is a futuristic world where organ transplantation becomes the trend. First, people were dying and in need of organ transplants, but they couldn’t afford surgery. GeneCo comes up with a payment plan so people could get their much needed transplants, but the fine print for not making your payments is a killer (literally). The Repo Man would be sent out to collect GeneCo’s property (eyes, livers, kidneys, whatever it is you had transplanted). Along with the emergence of organ transplantation on payment plans, a drug called zydrate was created as a painkiller for surgery. Soon, surgery becomes the latest trend and some people are “addicted to the knife” and the demand for zydrate increases. Rotti is the owner of GeneCo and has three children, all fighting to succeed Rotti upon his ever more imminent death. Marni (dead when this story takes place) once dated Rotti, but dumped him for Nathan. When Marni dies, Nathan agrees to work as the Repo Man for Rotti and GeneCo. Shilo is the daughter of Marni and Nathan. Blind Mag was a close friend of Marni and is Shilo’s godmother, though she thought Shilo died with her mother.
The story of Repo! is about Shilo and Nathan/Repo Man, and occurs when Shilo is seventeen. All her life, Shilo’s been told she’s sick and needs to take her medicine. While visiting her mother’s grave, she accidentally meets the Graverobber and forgetting to take her medicine in time she passes out just as Repo Man shows up. Repo Man (Shilo’s father, though Shilo doesn’t know it) takes Shilo home. Meanwhile, Rotti finds out he is dying and he doesn’t want to leave GeneCo to any of his children and decides he might leave it to Shilo if she proves she’s worth it. He introduces himself to her and takes her to meet Blind Mag, whose performances Shilo watches from her bedroom. Rotti also promises that he has a cure for Shilo’s sickness. Despite Nathan’s attempts to keep his daughter from going outside, Shilo does of course, and is unwittingly used by Rotti as a trap for Nathan/Repo Man because Nathan refuses to repossess Blind Mag’s eyes. The conclusion takes place at “The Genetic Opera” and is, of course, tragic, but gives a spark of hope for humanity, as indicated in the song “Genetic Emancipation”. “Genetic Emancipation” has a very important message for everyone, that of free and conscious choice.
The story of Repo! is essentially a simple love story that is uniquely told in a futuristic world, thus reinforcing the fact that some ideas and concepts are universal no matter where and what the future may hold.
Rating: 5 out of 5