Repo! The Genetic Opera

Gory, goofy musical is bloody and bombastic.
  • Review Date: November 5, 2008
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 2008
  • Running Time: 92 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Extensive discussion of medical challenges, surgery, surgical addiction, and living beyond one's means. Characters repossess organs when people can't pay for them -- a process that's generally fatal.


Constant, extensive, and bloody violence. Throats are slit, there's bare-handed neck breaking, and characters are stabbed, shot, and eviscerated, with bloody organs pulled from their bodies. A character plucks their own eyes from their sockets before falling from a height onto a sharp metal fence. There's surgical imagery, stabbing with hypodermic needles as characters are drugged against their will, and extensive scars. A plastic surgery patient's skin slips from their face and reveals bloody, flayed musculature. Another character has extensive facial scars and wears a mask made of human skin attached with a series of hooks. A vast field of corpses is seen. Corpses are disinterred and stabbed with hypodermic needles to extract residual drugs from their bodies. A character shoves his hand into an eviscerated body and manipulates the corpse so it becomes a macabre ventriloquism act for a musical duet. Martial-arts style fighting, fist fighting, tussling, and head-butting. The death of millions due to a virus is established as a plot point in the prologue.


Brief topless female nudity; suggestive dancing and kissing. Naked cartoon breasts glimpsed in a comic book-style framing sequence. Cleavage is displayed.


Some strong language, including multiple uses of "f--k," "s--t," "ass," "balls," "bitch," and "damn."


No visible logos; plot elements question handing too much power to any one corporation.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Characters drink hard liquor and wine. A plot point revolves around the street-level abuse of an experimental medical anesthetic, some of which is extracted from corpses. Drug-addicted characters are injected with high-tech hypodermic guns to ease the agony of their cravings.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this offbeat horror movie/musical -- which is set in a near-future where people can buy plastic surgery and genetically engineered replacement organs on credit -- is extraordinarily violent (in some cases, the organs are repossessed). Livers, hearts, viscera, and entire spinal columns are pulled from unwilling victims, in many cases while they're still living. Paris Hilton appears in the film, which may attract teens' attention; but unless your teens have a strong stomach, they may not wish to see Ms. Hilton in special-effects makeup that makes her look like her skinned face is visible, with flayed musculature and blood showing over the bones of her skull. There's also plenty of strong language, some drinking, and brief topless female nudity.

What's the story?

In a near-future mega-city, the population has been ravaged by a series of plagues that induce massive organ failure. The GeneCo Corporation has amassed a fortune (and political power) by giving people the replacement organs they need to live -- at a price. When GeneCo clients fall behind in their payments, GeneCo dispatches the Repo Man (Anthony Head), a doctor/thug who removes the organs in question in fatal ways. The Repo Man keeps his work a secret from his ailing daughter Shilo (Alexa Vega), but Shilo's being approached by the head of GeneCo, the ailing Rotti Largo (Paul Sorvino), who has a plan for her to take the reins of the company instead of his squabbling children.

Is it any good?


REPO! THE GENETIC OPERA began as a stage play musical; the screen version is bigger, bolder -- and bloodier. The plot combines elements of The Little Mermaid (Shilo, confined to home by illness and a protective father, longs to see the world outside) and King Lear (the dying Largo tries to find a suitable heir for his corporate kingdom), along with a subplot revolving around drug and surgical addiction and an opera singer (Sarah Brightman) who owes her very sight to Largo's corporation and goodwill. But the songs aren't particularly memorable, and while Repo! The Genetic Opera is trying to put a 21st-century spin on the goofy, giddy operatic style of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, this movie is gory and grisly where its inspiration is campy and clever.

But many of the performers are game, especially in their musical performances; Head, for one, has a reedy tenor that sounds not unlike David Bowie, and the operatically trained Sorvino has a rippling, rich baritone that makes his musical numbers pulse with power. Director Darren Lynn Bousman wrings every possible penny of production value out of his budget -- the Blade Runner-inspired future mega-city is an eye-popper -- but the comic-book style graphic interludes that set up the story and show viewers establishing flashbacks are so static and long that they become a bore. Bousman also doesn't do much to shape the material or the performances in a clear way, choosing instead to let the hammering, droning songs propel the film from one moment of special-effects gore to the next. The people behind Repo! The Genetic Opera unquestionably have plenty of passion; regrettably, they could have used a bit less passion and a little more thought and judicious editing.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about who this film is meant to appeal to. Horror movie fans? Musical fans? Do many people like both genres? How does a movie become a "cult classic"? Families can also discuss the film's messages. Is it meant to be taken seriously? Do you think healthcare corporations put profit before patients? What happens when people can't pay for life-saving medical treatments? Is there a danger of too much financial and political power being in the hands of one corporation?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:November 7, 2008
DVD release date:January 20, 2009
Cast:Alexa Vega, Anthony Head, Sarah Brightman
Director:Darren Lynn Bousman
Run time:92 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:strong bloody violence and gore, language, some drug and sexual content

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Parent of a 8 and 14 year old Written byRatedM_R April 2, 2011
age 8+
Nathan is so decated to his daughter a real family figure. Tim's first R rated film he luvs it. My fav character Luigi Largo, Mikes-Graverobber (he looks like his twin), Junior-Nathan Wallace, Tim-Blind Mag
What other families should know
Great role models
Parent of an infant, 3, 4, 5, and 6 year old Written bydrchunk April 18, 2009
age 6+
I watched this movie with my 6 year old and he said he liked the song "addicted to the night" best. he also said that it made him feel 14. after the movie he was like whooooooooooo. lets watch it again.
Parent of a 5, 9, 11, and 14 year old Written byJamesRobertson January 4, 2009


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