Repo The Genetic Opera (2008)
Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman

Starring Alexa Vega Bill Moseley Paris Hilton Paul Sorvino Sarah Brightman

The world's first horror-sci fi-rock opera, "Repo The Genetic Opera" is best described as a "Saw"-meets-"Blade Runner"-meets-"Moulin Rouge," with all original songs. Originally a popular L.A. stage play directed by future "Saw" franchise helmer Bousman, it became a reality when the same crew behind the "Saw" series back Bousman's vision of a movie.

Set in a future where diseases have led to massive organ failures in the population, civilization has turned to a savior in the form of health corporation GeneCo, which creates organs for transplant. There's one hitch -- the organs aren't free, and if a recipient isn't able to keep up with payments, a rubber-suited "Repo man" will show up and, like Jack the Ripper, wrench the organs out of the deadbeat debtor.

We're given some exposition via a rapping "Graverobber" character who steals remnants of a GeneCo painkiller from the bodies of the dead. He befriends Shilo (Alexa Vega), the daughter of one of the Repo Men (Anthony Stewart Head), who keeps his day job secret from his daughter.

To make the plot a bit Shakespearean, we learn that the Repo Man's life turned tragic when his wife became ill and he was forced to choose between the life of his wife and then-newborn daughter. Making things even more complicated, Rotti (Paul Sorvino) the CEO of Geneco set things up so the wife would die, as revenge for her having spurned him.

Rotti is also dying and doesn't want his surgery and drug-addicted children -- Paris Hilton, Bill Moseley and Ogre -- to inherit his empire. The plot thickens as the CEO woos Shilo to become part of the Geneco clan get involved in the corporation's opera whose star Blind Mag (Sarah Brightman) also happens to be Shilo's godmother. Mag has Geneco-created eyes which she will have to give up if she ever quits the corporation as its lead opera singer chick. It's pretty complicated, Shakespearean storyline stuff, sung to Nine Inch Nails-style rock music and overflowing with gore and cheap dance numbers.

Rock operas are generally pretty bad as movies and, so as far as this genre goes, "Repo The Genetic Opera" is probably one of the best of the bunch. The soundtrack is pretty good and horror-sci fi elements just crazy enough to warrant the film a small cult that will probably make it a midnight movie for some time to come.

Ultimately, a movie like this is as good as its singing and its music, which is pretty good but not great. The best thing about the film is easily Sarah Brightman, who is mesmerizing both vocally and visually as Blind Mag. The scene where she sings to her god daughter for the first time -- and projects an image of the daughter's singing, deceased mother from her eyes -- was the high point of the entire film.

No, fans of "Mamma Mia!" won't be too thrilled with "Repo! The Genetic Opera." But anyone with a taste for the bizarre should check it out. Definitely one of the strangest movies ever made.

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-- Review by Lucius Gore

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