There are movies that move you and movies that just confuse you, Repo Man is somewhere in between. When I first saw snippets of it on television, particularly the surreal ending as the televangelist approaches the glowing car only to have his bible burst into flames, it seemed like about the coolest thing there was. Watching Repo Man again is a little like watching a collaboration between John Carpenter and a New Age textbook, but in a good way. From the decay at the edges of suburbia, the satirical jabs at consumerism and trendiness to the scientosupernatural plot, Repo Man gets everything right that Donnie Darko got wrong. And worst of all for Donnie Darko, Repo Man makes a crazy kind of sense where Donnie Darko never does.
From the way the characters are expertly rendered from each of the Repo men to even the broom pushing lady, Repo Man creates a world grounded in the grit and grime of reality, even as it unveils bizarre coincidence after coincidence, turning time into a wheel and life into a strange and mystical pattern. Repo Man does this without any of the Donnie Darko crutches like silly music or monsters in the mirror, it just hits you with expertly framed shot after expertly framed shot, from the position of the cactus in the opening to the triangle formed by the two CIA men reading the Dianetics parody in the end, merging surrealism and the isolation felt in the throes of America’s recession and gritty and hilarious character sketches into one of the most fantastic movies ever made.
Remember the Repo Man code.