The Bye Bye Man
The Bye Bye Man is the kind of film that is so boring and bereft of anything of possible interest that it becomes infuriating.
Robert Parigi's "Love Object" tells the story of a painfully shy writer of software manuals, a man inhibited to the point of paralysis who discovers a Web site that sells realistic life-size love dolls. Kenneth (Desmond Harrington) is already a user of porn, frequenting a crypt-like adult shop that looks like the horror chamber at Madame Tussaud's and seems to have the Elephant Man behind the cash register. Now he maxes out his line of credit to order Nikki, a custom-crafted mannequin made to his specifications: hair color, eyes, etc.
While this drama is unfolding in his private life, Kenneth is under pressure from his boss. That would be Mr. Novak (Rip Torn), who seems to have modeled his performance on opera bass Samuel Ramey as Mephistopheles. Gravel-voiced and goateed, he alternates threat and praise as he assigns Kenneth to produce a three-volume instruction manual in a month. To assist him, Novak supplies a temp who can do the typing. This is Lisa (Melissa Sagemiller), an attractive young blond.
Kenneth doesn't want help. He prefers to work alone. But then an eerie thing occurs; Lisa, as it happens, looks a little like the love doll, Nikki. Kenneth starts buying things for the doll: dresses, wigs, lipstick, fingernail polish. He rigs up a harness so he can dance with the doll. And in the meantime, Lisa makes no secret of her attraction to him, which is odd, since Kenneth is so odd, he might as well have Weirdo Freak tattooed on his forehead.
The establishing scenes of "Love Object" are voyeuristic in a creepy way; there's a strange fascination in stories about sexual fetishes, and as Kenneth works to make Nikki look more like Lisa, and then to make Lisa look more like Nikki, the music by Nicholas Pike subtly reminds us of the "Vertigo" theme. The "Vertigo" connection seems deliberate: There's even a scene in a dress store, where Kenneth takes Lisa to buy the same dress he earlier bought for Nikki, and the sales clerk looks at him in that same complicit way the clerk regarded James Stewart in the Alfred Hitchcock film. Kenneth wants Lisa and Nikki to look alike, just as Stewart coached Kim Novak to resemble the woman of his dreams.