17 January 2009

At the movies: Repo! The Genetic Opera.

In the not-too-distant future, an outbreak of organ failure has allowed the shadowy GeneCo corporation to make a killing providing artificial organs for the people. But if you miss a payment, GeneCo sends out its Repo Man (Anthony Stewart Head, from Buffy The Vampire Slayer), and your organs are repossessed in a splashingly gory fashion.

An adaptation of a theatrical piece, Repo! is grungy, imaginative, and like no musical in years. But its studio (see also The Midnight Meat Train) gave it the most perfunctory of releases, expecting it to die off. But its small engagements sold out, with people already dressing like characters, learning the songs, and organizing the first national Cult Film of the aughts, and the word spread slowly.

So is Nashville ready for this rather marvelous work? Director Darren Lynn Bousman (Saws II-IV) has a signature look, and it serves the tone of the songs and atmosphere. The cast, which spans the exceptional Head, former Andrew Lloyd Webber muse Sarah Brightman, Paul Sorvino, Nivek Ogre from Skinny Puppy, and Paris Hilton, is game across the board, and the songs are unique and may do for goth trappings, leather, and surgical fetishes what Hedwig and The Angry Inch did for guy-liner and sexual ambiguity. Regardless, the rock musical flourishes.

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