I’m a softy when it comes to musical theater, however I’m not a fan of the classics. They are old and kind of boring, taking no risks. I’m sure for the time, shows like The King and I and State Fair had something to say, but those messages are now lost on today’s culture. That’s why whenever a musical comes along that pushes the boundaries of what theater is, what it has to say and the way it makes us think, I tend to stand up and take notice.
Movie musicals are making a fast comeback, sadly due in part to Disney’s High School Musical series. Despite Disney’s constant interfering and pandering to the teeny bopper crowd, a few movie musicals have graced the scene in recent years, and when a musical that touts itself as a horror musical, well you can bet that I’m going to check it out!
Repo the Genetic opera is set close to 15 years in our future and through the first song, we set up our world from the lyrics “Industrialization has crippled the globe / Nature Failed as technology spread / And in its wake a market erected / An entire city built on top of the Dead.”
With the setting in place, we follow along the story of a company named Geneco who managed to save the world after a rash of organ failures and disease spread across the globe, killing millions. Only through complicated organ transplants could mankind survive, and for those who could not pony up the steep fees for the transplants, Geneco provides a financing plan. Much like cars and homes, when you make payment plans, if you are late, a repo man is sent to reclaim the companies’ property, and Geneco is no exception. An army of legal assassins called the Repo Men work for Geneco, repossessing your organs after 90 days missed payments.
Our hero, if one can call him that, is a man named Nathan, who, in an attempt to save his pregnant wife, Marni, from a blood disease, accidentally kills her. Left with a choice of whom to save, the unborn child or his wife, Nathan removes the baby hastily, leaving Marni to die. Marni, the dead wife, had at one time been set to marry Rotti Largo, owner and CEO of Geneco, and to help clear up the rather messy, and slightly mysterious death of Nathan’s wife, Nathan enters into an agreement with Rotti. He will become his Repo Man if Rotti keeps the secret of his child and his wife’s death from those around him and those in authority.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg of the story line of love, betrayal, drugs, family and revenge that is told entirely through song.
The music itself is something to behold. At one point during the epilogue, our Narrator, The Grave robber, calls it a Goth Opera, and it seems to be a very appropriate title for the style. heavy rock, Rock Ballads, and Punk music are the musical themes that run through the entire score with the lyrics being belted out by a very talented cast including Anthony Stewert Head (Giles of Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Bill Mosely (Otis Firefly from Devils Rejects), and…. ahem…. *gulp* Paris Hilton.
Now I know what you’re going to say. How can I say Talented and Paris Hilton in the same sentence. Well believe it or not, she is very good in her role as Amber Sweet, the surgery and drug addicted daughter of Rotti Largo (not exactly a stretch in the acting department).
Not every song is a toe-tapper. The song Seventeen, sung by Shilo about teenage rebellion seems a little forced, yet it still works in the theme of the movie.
Despite its few flaws (not every movie is going to be perfect) this has become one of my favorite movies of all time. Darryn Bouseman (director of saw 2,3 and 4) has put together on a very tight budget an amazing cast and crew, that acts their hearts out (pun intended) and weaves a Shakespearian tale that will leave you humming for days.