As shocking plot lines go, you could do a lot worse than office-drone-gets-obsessed-with-life-sized-sex-doll. And so it goes in writer-director Robert Parigi’s wannabe-Hitchcock debut, Love Object: Kenneth (Desmond Harrington) is a technical writer by day, a shut-in who presses his ear to the wall to hear the neighbors having sex by night. After the guys at work joke that “you don’t need to take a sex doll to see The English Patient,” the buttoned-down perv goes online and plunks down $10,000 for Nikki, a doll with a “spring-loaded arm for hand jobs.” The, um, couple’s first night together is shameful and passionless, but Kenneth soon starts to treat Nikki with more respect: He dresses her up, does her hair, and paints her nails—all to make her look more like Lisa (Melissa Sagemiller), a pretty blonde in the typing pool at work. Love Object’s major flaw is that Parigi doesn’t seem sure about whether to take his own movie seriously. Sure, the director self-consciously evokes Vertigo by fixating on Kenneth’s various makeovers. But no one will be surprised to learn that Parigi is also “obsessed” with such ’60s-styled trash as The Brain That Wouldn’t Die and Danger: Diabolik. When Kenneth starts talking to Nikki and spouting bad-horror-movie dialogue (“Just because she’s not alive doesn’t mean she isn’t real”), the tone is just as confused as the filmmaker’s source material—neither realistic enough to be really creepy nor wacky enough to be campy. The film’s best moments are less showy: Kenneth’s in-the-act discovery that Lisa, unlike Nikki, has a tongue stud and a tattoo, and the funny, pathetic way he wipes his doll’s eyes during a viewing of—yes—The English Patient. Ultimately, though, Parigi can’t overcome that B-movie obsession—exactly why Love Object plays less like Vertigo than like Mannequin with a few more sex scenes. —Josh Levin