Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Repo! The Genetic Opera</strong> (2008)

(On DVD, January 2009) As the saying goes, this may not be good, but it’s certainly interesting: In a dystopian future where organ transplants have become the norm, an all-controlling company is wracked by succession drama as their organ repossession operative has family problems of his own. Hybridized from many genres, Repo doesn’t work if considered from the usual perspectives: As Science Fiction, it’s implausible, simplistic and phantasmagorical. As horror, it low-balls the gore and is seldom scary. As a musical, it stumbles with its on-the-nose lyrics and forgettable melodies. As a comedy, well, it’s more peculiar than amusing, most of its humor value coming from strange things blended together. (After all, how many movies feature Paris Hilton in a singing sequence in which her face keeps falling off? That’s some quality post-modernism right there.) Alas, most of the film’s first half is more odd than satisfying as the screenwriters and lyricists seem unable to find their groove. It’s only in the film’s second half that some of the musical numbers seem to click and hold the rest of the film together. Few of the actors hold their own musically (Sarah Brightman is the obvious exception), but that doesn’t matter as much as you think, because more than trying to be a musical, there’s a sense that Repo really loves being odd, and that it doesn’t care about large audiences. The path from this attitude to a cult film is clear, which makes the film doubly difficult to criticize: Even when it’s doing its own thing, someone else, somewhere, is probably loving it. Until then, it’s not necessarily a bad thing to see a trash horror musical float up alongside bouncier fare such as Mamma Mia! and Dreamgirls, targeting another audience and hopefully breaking down barriers for other experiments of the type.

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