Repo the Genetic Opera

Repo the Genetic Cat Vs Kirk

Sometimes I worry that I don't have good taste. Sure, I can generally justify most of my own opinions, but I've never really been in touch with what's cool, and sometimes that leaves me feeling self conscious. Is it a problem that my wardrobe is so heavy on Hawaiian shirts? What does it say about me that I like post-Pinkerton Weezer about as much as I like classic Weezer? Do I really need to have so many shitty movies like Repo: the Genetic Opera on my DVD shelf?

In case you missed it, Repo: The Genetic Opera is set in a future where the world is so polluted that there's been an massive wave of organ failures in the general population. Fortunately, there's a large multinational corporation named GeneCo which can sell people artificial organs. Unfortunately, GeneCo charges a high premium for it's wares and if you fall behind on your payments they'll send a shadowy figure in a black Hazmat suit to immediately repossess your kidney or liver with a meat cleaver. I like dystopian science fiction well enough, and the premise promised a certain amount of black humor, so I decided to take a gamble on this. The receipt I tucked inside the DVD box says I paid $4.80 to own this movie in April of 2009.

Here's the problem: I decided to keep owning that movie even after I watched it. Why would I do that? Repo: The Genetic Opera is pretty consistently unwatchable. To start with, it was actually written in the style of an opera, meaning that almost every line of dialogue is sung. That would be great if the cast was exclusively made up of good singers, but unfortunately, the cast has a lot of variety, ranging from Ogre from Skinny Puppy (who makes his living as a musician) to have Paris Hilton (who definitely does not.)

Furthermore, if you're going to try to write a movie that's non-stop music, you have to make the music good. The tangled backstory of the characters requires constant exposition to explain, and very little of it naturally lends itself to being expressed in proper meter. Although I will admit that the scene where a young woman named Shilo explains to the audience that her father is super protective of her because she inherited a fatal blood disease from her mom by singing "I'm infected / by your genetics / and I don't think that I can be fixed / tell me why oh why are my genetics such a bitch?" is basically as close to making lemonade out of that particular plot point's lemons as you're going to get.

But even if all the musical stuff was solid, the film would still feel like a trainwreck because all of it's visual elements are out of whack. There's a lot of goth imagery - women with dark mascara and corsets skulking about in a graveyard, for example - but there's also a lot of neon-bright future imagery, too, and the two color extremes can't comfortably co-exist. This is where the film's obvious cheapness bites it in the ass - I can forgive all the obvious green screening and blatantly tiny sets, but somebody needed to spend the time and money to make props that would integrate both it's flashy-bright future imagery with it's dark brooding imagery. Instead, we get an all overkill all the time mishmash, with half the cast looking like they just got done hanging out with vultures in a mausoleum and the other half looking like they've just arrived from a plastic surgery obsessed Candyland.

Here's the thing: whoever made this movie clearly had a vision; you can tell this was a labor of love. Nobody is standing on a street corner in Hollywood handing out millions of dollars for sci-fi operas about organ repossession. That's fine; good for them. I took a gamble on a movie that sounded interesting and it didn't work out. That's also fine. But did I have to own it for five plus years? I moved at least twice in that time. The last time I moved I hid a coffeemaker that always made stale coffee in a spiderhole under the stairway instead of moving it. Why didn't I hide this DVD there, too? I live two blocks from a second hand store with a donation box in front. I walk past it every time I get groceries, but I've never dropped this movie off. It's still on my shelf even now.

Forget what this movie's allegory about organ repossession is trying to say about the way our health care system works - the more pressing question is: what does the fact that I possess this movie say about me? I'm not an uncool weirdo, am I? Because I can seriously stop liking Weezer at any time, I swear.

Winner: The Cat

Repo: The Genetic Opera on IMDB