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Love Object Reviews

A sexually repressed writer of technical manuals meets the girl of his dreams in the form of a life-sized, silicone sex doll. Needless to say, their whirlwind romance ends badly, but just how badly might surprise you: Writer-director Robert Parigi's cruel, grisly and undeniably intelligent hybrid of horror and romantic comedy goes pretty far out on the edge, and then some. Kenneth Winslow (Desmond Harrington) is early to bed, early to work, and keeps all his to-do lists meticulously thumb-tacked to his bulletin board; he doesn't have much of a life, but he's one of Accurate Technical Publishing's best copywriters. Kenneth's obsessively ordered existence begins unravelling when his boorish coworkers drop a postcard on his desk advertising "Nikki," a full-size, anatomically correct rubber sex doll that can be discreetly ordered over the Internet and custom configured to one's wildest dream-girl fantasies for a mere $10,000. Kenneth takes their mean-spirited joke seriously and orders one, customizing his Nikki to look like pretty blonde temp Lisa (Melissa Sagemiller), whom Kenneth's boss (Rip Torn) has assigned to help Kenneth with an important new project. The doll arrives in a coffin-size crate, and though disappointed at first with the lifeless mannequin, Kenneth follows the manual's advice and learns to project his own sexual fantasies onto "Nikki." Together, they delve deep into Kenneth's darker, sadomasochistic desires and, oddly enough, Kenneth loosens up sufficiently to begin a tentative flirtation with Lisa. Nikki, however, waiting at home in her latex dominatrix gear, is having none of it, and begins jealously plaguing Kenneth at work with phone calls. Or so Kenneth thinks. Granted, the subject matter isn't to everyone's taste. But despite the fantastically gruesome lengths to which Parigi is willing to go — the climax involves murder, two dismemberments in a bathtub and plastination (look it up) — his film actually has quite a bit to say about male fantasies; witness the fact that the doll used in the film is indeed available online to anyone with $7,000 to spare and a penchant for lifeless rubber bodies. Nikki's resemblance to Sagemiller is uncanny, but what really brings the doll to life is Harrington's startling performance; his scenes alone with the doll will have the hair on the back of your neck standing on end. Of course, no creepy movie worth its salt would be complete without an appearance by Udo Kier, and Parigi doesn't disappoint: Kier appears as Kenneth's louche, hookah-smoking next-door neighbor and, as always, is a disturbing delight.