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Love Object

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Love Object

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First-time writer-director Robert Parigi delves into the relationship between a man and his sex toy in the erotic horror film Love Object—a scenario that, at least initially, Parigi addresses with a fair amount of imagination. Desmond Harrington plays the man, a painfully shy technical writer, while the sex toy is modeled after the hyper-realistic products of the Real Doll company, which makes life-size, full-weight rubber women with receptive orifices. Harrington spends a sweaty evening picking his doll off the Internet, in the process giving it the features of his new coworker, temp typist Melissa Sagemiller. When the toy arrives, its crate is almost too big to get through Harrington's door, leading to an anxious moment when he thinks he might have to open the box in the hall in front of his neighbors. But he does get the crate inside, and after he opens it and has a clumsy sexual encounter with the product, he's ashamed and let down. Parigi works a day job as a producer of pulpy TV series like Dark Skies and Threat Matrix, and though he has a knack for giving an audience the creeps—thanks in part to amped-up sound design that enhances every sharp noise—Love Object doesn't linger long enough on the subtleties of sexual perversity and chronic dissatisfaction. In the movie's second half, as Harrington begins to woo Sagemiller (and gets her to dress the way he dresses up his doll), his performance becomes as broad as that of the actors who play his crass, bullying coworkers. Eventually, Harrington begins to hear the doll's voice in his head, and starts acting on what he imagines her sick, violent whims to be. The turn toward the bloody and ridiculous is disappointing, mainly because Parigi leaves so many questions unanswered about his main characters. Love Object's plot is reminiscent of Guy Colwell's underground comic-book series Doll, only Colwell dealt more with sex toys as emblematic of the systematic objectification of women, while Parigi just uses the concept for a bunch of weird shocks, dark laughs, and a fairly repellent twist ending. He gets what he's going for, granted, but the mundanely sinister opening scenes show how much more he could have accomplished.