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Repo! The Genetic Opera 

Wednesday, Nov 12 2008
Based on a campy sci-fi/horror rock opera first staged in Toronto in 2002, Repo! is also an offshoot of the slash-mash-gash Saw franchise that’s made gazillions for Lionsgate—it’s directed by Darren Lynn Bousman, youthful helmer of Saws II, III, and IV. No diabolical torture machines here, unless you read Repo! as a cautionary essay on the perils of the credit economy. A half-century from now, humanity has been decimated by a plague and gone surgery-mad, with desperate survivors buying replacement internal organs from the GeneCo on credit and scalpel-wielding repo men chasing down deadbeats to reclaim the company’s transplants. Two interlocking family dramas are played out amid the murky clutter of exploitable bodies. A brooding Sweeney Todd type (Anthony Stewart Head) does GeneCo’s bloody business in order to provide medicine for his sickly goth-girl daughter. Meanwhile, the unscrupulous plutocratic head of GeneCo (Paul Sorvino) attempts to rule his spiritually or physically degenerate offspring—among them Paris Hilton. Repo! is a movie of wildly enthusiastic Grand Guignol gross-outs. It’s also entirely sung through, mainly in a persistent belting whine. The whole gaudy miasma reaches its climax with the entire cast converging on the local opera house, West Side Story–style. The grim finality of the ensuing pietà suggests the last act of Hamlet or, rather, Hamlet 2—so embarrassing that, for the first time, I wanted to avert my eyes from the screen, although that might have been because Repo! appears to have been shot with a cell phone.
Nov. 14-27, 2008

About The Author

J. Hoberman


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