Ginger Nuts of Horror
BY ALEX DAVIS
Dir. Robert Parigi, USA, 88 mins
I happened to stumble across this DVD (along with a host of other very good horror DVDs) for just 50p at a completely random charity sale. It's a movie I hadn't seen for a while, or even considered for a fair bit, but the minute I saw it I had a recollection of it being something I had really liked. In fact I distinctly recall renting it from Blockbuster (I know some of your out there will remember those) and really enjoying it. But would this one have stood the test of time? An hour and a half later I was relieved to be able to answer yes – Love Object still has plenty about it as a movie and remains high in my estimation. While it's not as flat out visually disturbing or gross as some Film Gutter entries, it plays with some very odd and somewhat shocking ideas in a subtle and clever way.
Love Object follows the story of Kenneth, a fairly ambitious but also very buttoned down young employee at a technical manual writing company. His boss is really pleased with his work and decides to give him a major job on a tight deadline. But he also gives him a deputy on the task – Lisa, a new temp at the company who'll be doing some of the typing and transcription (I think? It's a little ill-defined). Shy Kenneth initially doesn't want to work with a beautiful young woman, and asks to work alone, but his boss insists that he needs the support to deliver on time. And from there starts a dangerous obsession and a very dark journey.
You see, this is not only the story of will they/won't they between Kenneth and Lisa, but has a much darker element. When one of his colleagues at work introduces the idea of an anatomically correct, personalised sex doll Kenneth is intrigued and a little excited by the concept. So he goes home, empties his bank account and orders his very own doll in the very image of Lisa, which he dubs Nikki. But Nikki isn't there to just be subservient, and before long seems to take on a life of her own...
The central premise probably sounds a bit cheesy, and when I first watched it back I was a little nervous of how it would be delivered, but it's really well done. It's not presented a la the ridiculous Annabelle – all of Nikki's movements either happen while Kenneth is away, or asleep, or are presented in a chaotic fashion to give a sense of movement without any actual movement going on. Or course that brings up the question of whether any of this is real, or is the whole thing is in Kenneth's repressed and fragmented psyche. The love story with the real-life Lisa so nearly happens, but the final twist to the movie is pretty horrible and is in part what makes this worthy of mention on Film Gutter.
It's not uncommon to hear comparisons to American Psycho, which I can sort of understand. As much as I unequivocally love that book, it has to be said Love Object is much better than the poor movie adaptation of American Psycho. The whole thing is played in a pretty understated manner by lead actors Desmond Harrington and Melissa Sagemiller, the plot unveils steadily and in a logical fashion with very good high points and low points, and the threads of work stress and romantic entanglement an sexual frustration all tie together really well. I suppose those American Psycho comparisons come from the flashes of black humour throughout, which do lighten the mood nicely without jarring from a tonal viewpoint. The ending – which I won't spoil – is pretty effective too.
I've never quite understood how this movie seemed to pass so many people by, or never get more credit than it has. I can't find much not to like – it's a creepy concept with strong central performances and is one that I would certainly recommend checking out.
RATING: 9/10. There's so much good about Love Object, with only a few minor quibbles about some of the side performances, that I can only give it an excellent rating. It's neatly constructed, carefully and skilfully paced and I loved the central relationship and chemistry between the two lead characters and actors. Throw in some genuinely creep-out moments alongside some genuinely funny moments and you have a winning combination. On top of all that, it'll basically guarantee you never have any wish to but a sex doll. It gets plenty of love from me for a 9/10.