Film Reviews Reviews

Repo! The Genetic Opera – Review

Repo! The Genetic Opera is categorized as a horror/musical. It is directed by Darren Lynn Bousman, who also directed some of the “SAW”-sequels and “The Devil’s Carnival”. Repo! The Genetic Opera came out in 2008 and among the cast we see names like Alexa PenaVega, Anthony Head, Paris Hilton and Sarah Brightman.

Repo! The Genetic Opera
Repo! The Genetic Opera

The story in Repo! The Genetic Opera

Repo! The Genetic Opera starts out with a comic panel setting. I have not seen that alot outside of superhero movies and it caught my attention immediately. It also meant you had to stay focused since you had to read the comic. The background music that goes along with the comic panel really set the mood for the movie. There is a fast introduction of the characters and if you don’t follow the story from the start, that introduction can seem a bit confusing. As I mentioned, the music from the start of Repo! The Genetic Opera really sets the mood, which is dark and has many elements from the goth subculture.

Comic Panel from Repo! The Genetic Opera
Comic Panel from Repo! The Genetic Opera

So the scene is set, what about the story? The story demands your attention. If you miss something it is easy to end up confused. But the story is good if you take the time and shut off your phone, iPad and other distracting devices and just focus on the movie.

Without spoiling anything, the story is set in the not-too-distant future, 2056, where a virus is causing organ failures within humans. Chaos sets in. Out of the chaos the company GeneCo arises, which offers organ finances, so people can afford the expensive organ transplants. GeneCo also starts to go into surgery as a fashion statement and the company also develops Zydrate. A painkiller drug that is highly addictive and expensive.

And where a market grows, a submarket grows, and so grave-robbers extract Zydrate from the dead. Thus they start selling a cheaper version of Zydrate on the black market. Rotti Largo, the founder of GeneCo, makes organ repossessions legal. So beware of the Repo men, who will come for your organs if you cannot keep up with your organ payments.

The city in Repo! The Genetic Opera
The city in Repo! The Genetic Opera

The characters

That is how Repo! The Genetic Opera starts. It also introduces you to the whole Largo family, which is the most powerful family in the world. The best way to describe them would probably be “Mafia-family”. Rotti Largo has three kids and everytime they appear in the movie, in particular the two sons, it’s like “Oh no, what are they gonna do or say now”. Everything they say or do is childish, stupid… but hilarious. They are what I would call the comic relief of the movie.

Amber, the daughter, is not as stupid as her brothers, however, and is also more in the movie. I don’t really care for any of the children, but Amber is the one with most personality. Rotti’s relationship with his kids are not good, and you know it from the start.

The Largo children
The Largo children in Repo! The Genetic Opera

Another important family is introduced not long after the beginning of the movie. Shilo and Nathan Wallace. Shilo is a 17 year old girl who seems very rebellious toward her father, Nathan. He, however, is an overprotective father and he is full of guilt because of things that happened in the past. He wants to protect Shilo from the dark, cruel world outside. Their relationship seems like the typical rebellious teenager/protective parent type and it doesn’t develop a lot through the movie up until the end.

Shilo Wallace
Shilo Wallace from Repo! The Genetic Opera

The last character I want to introduce is simply known as Graverobber. He is sort of a narrator, who introduces us to various things throughout the movie, but also plays a part in the story. He reminds me of Clopin from Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame, just a darker version of him. But he tells us about the Repo man and later about Zydrate and how it works, through a song that sounds a little like a dark nursery rhyme.


The acting

For the first part of Repo! The Genetic Opera the acting can come off as a bit stiff and some of the movements they make might seem funny – but that is until you realise it is done intentionally. If you just look at the surface it might look weird, but the acting is actually good. In particular, Anthony Head is doing a very good job because his character, Nathan, has two different personalities in the movie. You are not in doubt when he shows one personality and when he shows the other.

Amber at the Black Market in Repo! The Genetic Opera
Amber at the Black Market in Repo! The Genetic Opera

Now for some of the “worse” acting there are the Largo children. Their seemingly “bad acting” is on purpose and that is why I write “worse”. Bad acting may seem easy to do, but in reality if you are a decent actor it can prove difficult to do bad acting. This is why I call them the comic relief of the movie instead. The rest of the actors did a good job with the acting, as well, but I don’t feel like there is something extraordinaire to mention. So overall the acting is good, though seems a bit stiff at the start.


The soundtrack

The songs in Repo! The Genetic Opera feels and sounds very inspired by the goth subculture. The punk, gothic rock music is not for everyone, but it is one fantastic soundtrack if you are into that kind of music. The text for the songs are often dark and fits the setting and scenes of the movie. The text is also sometimes very describing of the moment or the story so there is a meaning with the songs. I never felt like the songs were in the movie just because it’s a musical so they had to be there. No, they actually made sense.


Now, there are a lot of good songs in Repo! The Genetic Opera, but as far as I am concerned, the best song in the movie is Zydrate Anatomy. I love Terrance Zdunich’s voice and he does not disappoint when he starts to sing about what Zydrate is, as Graverobber. The whole scene where the song takes place is also part of why the song is so good. Everything fits, and I heard this song and saw this scene from the movie long before I actually watched it. It was what got me hooked.

Graverobber singing Zydrate Anatomy from Repo! The Genetic Opera
Graverobber singing Zydrate Anatomy in Repo! The Genetic Opera

Overall the songs and the performance of the songs are very good throughout the movie, and we have Sarah Brightman.  She is a soprano and her role as Blind Mag in the movie fits that so, so well. There are a lot of different singing voices present in Repo! The Genetic Opera and that is partly what makes this musical so good. One thing that can be too much, though, is when what seems to be normal dialogue has to be sung as well, which happens sometimes in Repo! The Genetic Opera.


Other details in Repo! The Genetic Opera

One thing that is really interesting in Repo! The Genetic Opera is the comic panel parts. Not only does the movie start out with it, there are also three times in the movie where stories are told through comic panels. Even at the beginning of the credits we get one.

Nathan's story as comic panel in Repo! The Genetic Opera
Nathan’s story as comic panel in Repo! The Genetic Opera

One thing I found a bit funny was how some of the gadgets in the movie seems futuristic while others seem a bit old fashioned. Shilo has a TV in her room and I think it looks a bit old. Whereas she has a device that looks like a bracelet or watch but it also works a bit like a phone with a holographic image popping up looking like the person calling her.


The story in Repo! The Genetic Opera is not one of the best stories in movie history but it is interesting and there is rarely a dull moment in the movie. It captures your interest from start until the end. This is, among other things, because of the creepy and unique atmosphere.

Usually horror movies are fairly easy to predict, but I don’t think this applies here. I was busy following the story and so I didn’t think about what would happen later in the movie only what would happen next. Some people might be able to predict the ending of the story, I just wasn’t one of them.

Blind Mag
Blind Mag from Repo! The Genetic Opera

The ending of the movie is pretty open and I like that in this scenario. It would almost have felt weird if it had been too closed off. Also at the ending I cared about three of the characters, Shilo, Nathan and Graverobber. It doesn’t mean that I was uninterested in the rest of the characters but those three chracters just spoke to me the most.


Repo! The Genetic Opera – A very good movie

The movie has an interesting story, good acting that might seem stiff at times, and a fantastic soundtrack, if you like punk, goth rock. The atmosphere is spot on and the character personalities are many. The actors have been picked perfectly, too. The movie has a very specific audience, however, and though the story is interesting it can also be confusing at times. This is why I recommend that you watch it at least twice if you are not scared off the first time.

All in all I will give it a 7 for very good, because it is better than you expect but could be a bit sharper at times.

At the end I just wanna say…

You should not watch Repo! The Genetic Opera if you are squeamish. There is blood and organs here and there throughout the movie. Also if you only like Disney movie musicals and musicals full of life and hope this might not be the musical for you. But if you like The Rocky Horror Picture Show and The Devil’s Carnival then Repo! The Genetic Opera is very likely to be a movie that you will like, maybe even love. I will definitely recommend it!

Stay Cozy and have a nice day!

2 comments on “Repo! The Genetic Opera – Review

  1. Pingback: Final Destination 1 - First of five Final Destination Reviews - TriformTrinity

  2. Pingback: I Heard It Too - A horror short film review - TriformTrinity

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