Thursday, July 9, 2009

Review: Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008)

Darren Lynn Bousman is a goddamn cunt and I hope the guy from Buffy fucks him to death.

Whoa. I'd better start over.


There we go.

Thankfully, after somebody told him that he was the Joel Schumacher of the Saw franchise (and left it in the hands of probably somebody worse, I don't know), he decided to pursue other projects. Bousman's first choice was an off-Broadway opera (operetta?) where, if the movie is anything like the stage production, every lyric of dialogue is belted out in the same monotonous rhyme pattern and features lines like "Cursed by my genetics!!!" Did she mean genes?

What snagged me and near-filled me to the brim with hope is the plot: In a future where organ failure is an apparent constant concern due to pollution (message), healthy organs from the GeneCo are a recession-proof addition to the market. Payment plans are available for those with low-income, but if you miss a payment, they send the Repo Man to cut you the fuck open and reappropriate the liver, the lungs, penis and what-have-you.

It sounded radical! But Bousman's involvement in directorial capacity still incited some concerns; he's a child throwing dark watercolors at a canvas in a way that SORTA KINDA MAYBE looks like it would work when fitted into the full landscape. "Who cares though, just get the smoke in there and light it with some flourescents and we'll fix it later even though we probably can't. Put it on the fridge, ma." He can't even imitate a directorial style, so how in the name of Barny Juno can he carry his own film?

Answer: He can't, and probably never will.

The rigid driving force of any musical, follow me, is the music. Characters can monologue and converse and lament about how they are cursed by an entire scientific field -- it is all accepted if the music is adequate, better if it is good, best if the scenes themselves aren't treated like they are set to rules in actual theatres. Since Repo! fails effectively at all three, there is little that can be reappropriated. (And I read somewhere that Bousman did direct some Repo! stage performances... really?!)

The plot is pure convoluted Shakespearian tragedy that has been obsolete for a very long time, so very fucking long, I'm not kidding, I fucking mean it. If every character has to die, surely there are ways that aren't caused by LACK OF COMMUNICATION and INCESSANT BITCHING. I really do want to care about these people, and if they all deserve it, you're wasting my fucking time.

If not the story, the characters, the directing or the music, what then? ... Violence? Sure, who doesn't like violence. The thing is, gore with Bousman is plentiful, but never effective. Any makeup artist worth half his weight in Geldons can get the blood the correct color and skin the correct consistency, but if you treat these gifts like a chew toy, it will not come across. Violence is an involved and intimate practice, and in a film where the main character is opening people up and stealing vital components of their continued existence, often while they are still conscious, it should hurt to watch. Even in hyper-reality I can extend some empathy if the movie obeys its theme. Something that rips off Phantom of the Opera so heavily in that department, I should feel guilt directly after sympathising with the Repo Man. I do not.

Repo! The Genetic Opera is a masters course on what not to be, how not to act, and better than Bryan Singer could have ever taught you, how to not make a good film.



  1. Ah, Sean, your haterd is so endearing.

    Anyway, speaking as someone who hated Saw two and three (Haven't braved four yet) and was pretty sure he hated Bousman in general, I found myself sort of loving this one. Maybe it's just too cult-stupid for me to resist or maybe I just go gaga when someone combines eviseration and singing/dancing.

    But seriously though, "Watchmen" wasn't very good, was it?

  2. Though I have not yet seen this film, I have to whole-heartedly agree with the first line.