Any movie that stars both Sarah Brightman and Paris Hilton seems destined for cult status, and the most surprising thing about Repo! The Genetic Opera, adapted for the screen from a popular stage musical, is that it’s receiving a general release rather than heading directly for the midnight circuit. Set in 2050, Repo! posits a world in which internal organs are just another commodity to be purchased ... and, should one fall behind in one’s payments, repossessed. That spectacularly gory job goes to guilt-ridden doctor Nathan (Head, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer), who frets about his gravely ill daughter (Vega of Spy Kids) when he’s not excising innards from deadbeat customers on behalf of evil corporate giant GeneCo.
Unfortunately, Sweeney Todd this decidedly isn’t, despite the Grand Guignol trappings and through-sung storyline. Darren Smith and Terrance Zdunich, who wrote the original musical, mimic Stephen Sondheim’s atonal melodies but lack his astonishing gift for wordplay; most of the movie feels like a hair-metal tribute to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, minus the campy enthusiasm. And director Bousman, the man responsible for Saws II-IV, seems to have no interest in anything other than viscera. He does, however, give us an opportunity to see something we’ve long awaited: Paris Hilton’s face melting off. About time.