31 Days of Horror… musicals: Repo the Genetic Opera review

After yesterday tried to fool me with some kind of bizarre snooker fable, I truly didn’t expect much coming into today. I had vague memories of liking parts of this movie, and then also finding people who really loved this movie really irritating and so it was one of those things where I really didn’t know what I was going to be getting myself into. So, lets repossess some spines and talk about this movie.

Vital Stats
Released: 2008
Starring: Anthony Head, Paul Sorvino, and Alexa Vega
Directed by: Darren Lynn Bousman

So, how much can one expect from a rock opera from the director of the truly awful Chris Rock vehicle, Spiral?

Turns out you can kind of expect quite a bit, because Repo the Genetic Opera is a genuine blast from start to finish. Don’t get me wrong, it’s silly and a bit amateurish, and some of the performances fall flat (musical pun) at every turn – jesus christ what is the dynamic between Bill Moseley and Ogre? – annnnnnnnnnnd the movie looks like a lower budget movie punching above its weight in 2008, so you kind of know what you’re in for going in.

With all of those negatives out of the way, the movie just works. It has a clear vision and a distinct style, the world is well (if not confusingly) established. Really though, what works here is the complete and total buy in of the primary cast. Anthony Head (known best as Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer) in particular shines in this role as the titular Repo Man. There isn’t a moment where he hasn’t completely committed to this role, even at its goofiest, and it elevates the whole thing into something really special. An actor fully capable of doing a lot with some pretty silly songs, and treating the emotional pathos of the character with more care than others in his position might have. Not to mention, the dude has some pipes and it makes all the difference.

Terrance Zdunich also stands out as the graverobber and sort-of narrator of the piece. His songs are easily the catchiest and his voice and performance absolutely ooze charisma throughout. It’s very clear, at least to me, that his song Zydrate Anatomy was a crucial piece of getting this movie made, and someone was very pleased when they wrote it. You’ve also got some undeniably good vocal performances from Sarah Brightman – who it genuinely feels like no one really kew what to do with – and Paul Sorvino (RIP).

Honestly, Repo the Genetic Opera works almost in spite of itself. There is so much here working against it, and it pulls some real charm. It’s honestly got me kind of excited to see Bousman’s other musicals – which will be tackled later on this month, so stay tuned – and I sincerely hope that they offer the same charm and fun that this one did. You know that there is something special when even Paris Hilton seems to pull off her role, even if her casting in the movie is absolutely baffling.

If you’re looking for something fun to watch this month, you could do significantly worse than Repo, so if you haven’t had a look or it’s been awhile, then go and give it a watch.