Love Object (2003) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

Love Object is a psychological horror film that I can best describe as a cross between Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo (man tries to make woman more like his ex-girlfriend, with big twist ending) and Richard Attenborough's Magic (a dummy seems to be jealous of the ventriloquist's girlfriend).

I guess it is quite similar to all of the various movies in which the ventriloquist's dummy seems to take over the ventriloquist, except that such a description only touches the surface of what it is really about. The doll in this version of the story is not a ventriloquist's dummy, but a plastic sex doll. A lonely, painfully shy technical writer gets himself a very realistic doll, and is quite pleased with it. He establishes a relationship with it that includes dancing, S&M games, even watching The English Patient to get "her" in a romantic mood. She becomes more and more real to him, a sign that his mental condition is continually deteriorating.

At the same time that this "relationship" evolves, the talented writer is given a nearly impossible deadline to make, and a female assistant to help him make the deadline. The female assistant is a beautiful girl, kind of a fuller-figured version of Gwyneth Paltrow, and for some inexplicable reason, she takes a fancy to the nerdy writer. Because she is fairly aggressive, and he is not yet completely insane, he gradually begins to date her. In his half-sane world, he pushes his real girlfriend to become more and more like his imaginary girlfriend. (To heighten the effect, the special effects wizards actually formed the sex doll from a cast of the actress who played the real girlfriend. It was meant for the doll to look like a doll, but the wizards matched her closely to the actress, right down to some creepy details. The eyes, for example, were actually formed from Melissa Sagemiller's eyes by a medical professional who creates artificial eyes).

Here's the problem - the imaginary girlfriend "gets jealous", and the writer's sanity continues to deteriorate.

Any further explanation on my part would probably be too much because, in my opinion, this film is worth seeing.

  • The bondage scenes with the live girlfriend are hot, for those of you into that sort of thing.

  • The film is permeated with black humor, but it is generally subtle and understated enough so that it doesn't spoil the tension or the credibility of the scenes. (There's nothing worse than a horror film that doesn't take its own premise seriously, unless it is intended to be an outright comedy.)

  • Several scenes maintain an excellent level of tension. (1) The writer's neighbor/landlord lets himself in when he hears strange noises. (2) The cop who lives downstairs is headed to the writer's apartment (for all the wrong reasons), just as the writer is about to do something horrible to the live girlfriend. Will the officer arrive in time?

  • The ending is a real hoot! Classic twist.

This movie played the minor festival circuit, then went to video. It inspired little critical enthusiasm. I can see where the film might inspire weak sequels and copycats, but this is the original, and I enjoyed it (As did Tuna. See below). IMDb voters also show some support, with a respectable 6.3 score.


Melissa Sagemiller shows a breast in several scenes, and there is a brief look at her buns from the side-rear.

Tuna's comments in yellow:

Kenneth (Desmond Harrington) is a socially inept tech writer. He writes those operator manuals that nobody reads. He is a natural sucker for a Nikki, an expensive and lifelike made-to-order sex doll. Predictably, he is smitten and obsessive, but at the same time, he is given a nearly impossible task at work, and a real woman named Lisa is assigned as his word processor. He falls for her, but as a hard time explaining his actions to the sex doll, who retaliates by chaining him to the bed, cutting up his notes, etc. (The actions are not shown, just the results.)

DVD info from Amazon

  • widescreen anamorphic

  • four featurettes (on the director, composer, f/x guy, and actor Udo Kier). The f/x section alone is interesting enough to merit a rental.

Kenneth and Lisa become an effective team, and then inseparable companions, which eventually leads to sex. Kenneth temporarily puts the doll out of his life, but the real girl finds out about the plastic girl and reacts badly. Kenneth is fired due to the conflict, and doesn't even have his doll left to comfort him, so he decides he needs to "plasticize" the real girl who rejected him.

Love Object is a rare commodity, an original horror film. Not only that, but it is an interesting story and is well acted. All in all, it was a very good film considering the $1M budget and the genre.

The Critics Vote ...

  • Roger Ebert 2/4.

The People Vote ...

  • Box Office Mojo. There are several reviews on line, but for all intents and purposes, it went straight to video from the festival circuit. It grossed $6000 in one theater. It was made for a million dollars.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this film is a C+ (both reviewers). Tuna says, "If you like horror, this is a very good one, although it is not at all scary. It could have been way over the top, but is more restrained and believable".

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