Repo! The Genetic Opera
Starring Paul Sorvino, Anthony Head, and Alexa Vega. Rated 18A. Now playing at the Granville 7
The lowbrow and highfalutin collide in an orgy of upscale disembowelment as director Darren Lynn Bousman gives uneasy birth to the gore opera. Bousman honed his genre chops in Saw II, III, and IV, and he now offers up a Rocky Horror Picture Show for the torture-porn set. This Toronto-shot cult item is a splatter-art freak show targeting the sick 'n' twisted.
Based on an L.A. stage production, R!TGO is a futuristic Grand Guignol shot (stabbed?) through with graphic-novel imagery. The shameless Paul Sorvino toplines as Rotti Largo, head of an Orwellian biotech firm that's cornered the market on human-organ transplants, which are as routine as dental work in 2056. When patients get behind on their transplant payments, he unleashes the Repo Man (Anthony Head) to confiscate livers, spleens, and such. In one of the flick's few chuckle-worthy moments, the repossessor reaches way up inside the body of a man he's just gutted, finds his vocal chords, and fingers them to make the deadbeat harmonize on a few lines. It's an opera, after all.
As well as the imaginative set decoration and production design by Bousman's partners in Saw crimes, the movie's casting is impressive. Largo's bickering sons are played with depraved abandon by Skinny Puppy's Nivek Ogre (in grinning flesh mask) and Rob Zombie–film regular Bill Moseley, whose gleeful dementia steals the show (no simple task, considering the bombast throughout). In the role of their sister, Amber Sweet, Paris Hilton has a surgically altered face that slides clean off. Why wait until the artificial bimbo turns 60? See it now!
British pop-opera diva Sarah Brightman's soaring soprano is a welcome reprieve from the banality of the pseudo-metal soundtrack. Thanks to some serious fingernail action, the former Mrs. Lloyd Webber also earns herself a soft spot in the dark hearts of gorehounds everywhere. Bet you didn't see that comin'.