Director - Robert Parigi
Year - (2004)


One of my favorite psychological horror films of the mid-eighties was a film called "Pin: The Plastic Nightmare"; I also enjoyed recent films like Lucky McKee's "May" and Mary Harron's "American Psycho".

So it is probably not out of the ballpark for enjoy "Love Object", which was a direct to video release this year but had been screened at occasional film fests beforehand. But there was something else I got out of this movie too- and that is in the subtext of the film.

Desmond Harrington of "Wrong Turn" fame takes the lead as Kenneth, a shy, lonely guy who doesn't go out much unless it is either to porn shops or his workplace- writing copy for 'how to' manuals, ranging from VCRs to computers. One day when the boss' back is turned, some of his office buddies introduce Kenneth to a bizarre online website they found that specializes in bizarre sex toys- specifically a silicon and latex antatomically correct a female life size doll named Nikki.

Having a strange case of writer's block due to sexual frustration, Kenneth buys the sex doll and nearly busts his bank account when recieving the invoice. It is shipped in a wooden crate to his apartment where, embrassed, he has to tell his landlord (Udo Kier) and neighbor cop that it is a new refridgerator. When he opens the crate he takes out the life like doll and takes it his bedroom.

Writer's block is over, hegets back to work, helping out temp Lisa - who he had designed the Nikki doll to resemble. However, there is a problem: Lisa (Melissa Sagemiller of "Soul Survivors") and Kenneth wind up breaking the ice, and become slightly romatically attatched. Finding he likes Lisa over Nikki, he decides to help dress Lisa more like Nikki.

Alas, Nikki becomes jealous, at least that's how Ken sees it, and when he feels Nikki is stalking him, he punches and throws around the doll, finally dimembering it. This isn't so much graphic as it is disturbing, and it is the shape of things to come in the film's third act- where where horror really kicks in. Sure, there were some odd things and strange sights, but from this point on, if you are going to make the audience a promise, you better keep it. When the muder does happen, it is more effective do to this scene that proceded it.

The 'love triangle' gets more complicated when Lisa discovers the truth about the dummy, thinks Ken is a perv, gets him (at least) temporaily laid off. He then kidnaps Lisa and wants to turn her into the 'new' Nikki by not only dressing her up as the doll, but also begins to jack her up with embalming fluid.

One of the things I enjoyed about the film is that those involved in the porn and bondage are shown to have some sort of rash on thier person. As Ken's obsession and schizophrenia increases over the doll and the events surrounding it, so does his own 'rash'. This implies a community of people and/or those who are a party to a profession. It is a nice touch on Parigi's part.

Another thing I liked is that while the film isn't really 'scary', it is creepy. For starters, Nikki isn't Chucky. She never utters a word. She is extremely life-like, and while the doll is not possessed or an alien or anything like that, this act draws the film into more of a reality.

The low budget is masked quite well, as the film's progression lends more towards a surreal quality, aided along by the Nicolas Pike score and the use of waltzes in both romantic scenes but also scenes of destruction.

Writer-director Parigi does a splendid job here, not only in keeping in themes of isolation and rejection, but also with the dangers of crossing fantasy over into reality, and the blurred perception of the two. There is even a scene in which the neighbor cop, on his downtime, is in his apartment, playing video game shoot-em ups; later he will empty a full clip on a person when not only one shot would have done it, but he also shoots without a warning.

In fact, the entire antics with Nikki and Kenneth losing his grip on reality is really what make the film- he disposes of 'Nikki', but she gets him back as he adjusts to a 'normal' life- he cannot have one, he cannot get 'Nikki' back, and is pushed over the edge.

To me, the character study and contrast complemented the film; I still think some people might skip this because it may be too demented for them. Yes, I think it was demented too, but that's one of the film's strengths, not a weakness. I mentioned it already, but I got to get back to it: the scene where Ken mutilates and then hacks up his Barbie. On the one hand it is a destruction of the fantasy life, on the other, it is showing us 'practice' for a serial rapist/killer to be.

Yes, it is demented. But it is also effective and to the point.

Reviewed By - Darren J Seeley



Rating ( 4 of 5 )

 

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