Chainsaw Cheerleader Reviews: Love Object (2004)
Directed by: Robert Parigi
Written by: Robert Parigi
Cast: Desmond Harrington, Melissa Sagemiller, Udo Kier, Rip Torn
Genre: Horror, Psychological Thriller
In the early 1990’s I began to watch horror films. It was during this time that I started to understand the connection between the company who distributed the film and the quality of that film. As with any movie, the logo of the distributor is displayed at the beginning of the film. It was during this time that I would understand the worth of the film I was about to view. Lionsgate Home Entertainment is a company that I am very familiar with. In the early 1990’s the majority of Lionsgate Home Entertainment horror movies were almost guaranteed to be awful. This is the company that brought you Leprechaun 5: In the Hood after all. This reason alone is why I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the movie Love Object. While certainly not perfection, Love Object is a twisted little tale about the horror of one man’s search for love.
Kenneth Winslow (Desmond Harrington) is a socially awkward and shy man who does not understand how to interact with women. After developing feelings for a co-worker named Lisa (Melissa Sagemiller), Kenneth orders a realistic rubber sex doll named Nikki that looks like Lisa. Nikki is first used as a device to help Kenneth overcome his fears about women. As Kenneth begins to form a relationship with Nikki, his behavior begins to change. Kenneth talks to Nikki and at times argues with her. It is at this point that Kenneth starts to believe that Nikki, the rubber sex doll, is talking back. Kenneth does in fact have sex with Nikki. While incredibly awkward to watch, the beginning of their physical relationship could only be described as normal. Soon the missionary position is not enough and bondage is introduced. Kenneth and Nikki’s relationship quickly becomes violent. Believing that Nikki is stalking him, Kenneth shows genuine fear of his lover. It is during this time that Kenneth has grown the courage to talk to Lisa and shortly after this a relationship forms. After their relationship turns serious, Lisa becomes aware of Nikki and is completely freighted by the fact that Nikki looks just like her. After ending their relationship, Lisa is kidnapped by Kenneth. After restraining Lisa in his apartment, Kenneth begins the process of transferring Nikki (who he believes is alive) into Lisa’s body.
Love Object is a film that benefits from many of the great decisions that were made by its director, Robert Parigi. One such decision is that Nikki does not talk or is even seen moving. Kenneth is the only one that can hear her and replies to her was if it was a normal conversation. Another decision that the film benefits from is the choice to limit the number of actors in the film. With a limited cast, the director is able to show the viewer just how lonely Kenneth is. With no extras, each actor is given the opportunity to act to their very best and they do.
Desmond Harrington is amazing as Kenneth. If an actor can make it seem believable that he is truly having sex with a rubber sex doll and then argue with it, this actor can most likely accomplish any role that is given to him/her. It is Harrington’s acting that gives life to Nikki. It is his acting that makes it believable that a very lonely man could travel to a very dark place within himself. There are very few films where the viewer finds the bad guy as a sympathetic character. Harrington makes it almost easy to root for Kenneth.
Love Object is an odd quirky film that feels very original. After watching the film, the viewer is given the impression that the writer of the film’s script actually sat down and gave it genuine thought. As the black comedy of the first half of the film easies the viewer into the horror of the second half, the movie can be seen as truly well written, well paced, and well directed.
The true test of any good film is after watching it would the viewer see it again. On my own I would not watch this film again but with a friend who hasn’t seen it, yes. Love Object is a great movie, one that I highly recommend. It is the oddness of the quirkiness that makes this film enjoyable. To watch it again one may risk finding that quirkiness less odd as the first viewing may desensitize you to it.
Love Object receives 3 1/2 rubber sex dolls out of 5