By Richard Haridy
April 1, 2014
Nurse is one of those modern, pre-fabricated cult movies like The Human Centipede or Sharknado, designed to be talked about amongst friends though never truly satisfying as a genuinely interesting piece of exploitation cinema.
The picture (inspired by the photography of Tim Palen, production company Lionsgate’s chief marketing officer) introduces us to homicidal nurse Abby (Paz de la Huerta), a killer who preys on cheating men. Abby becomes obsessed with new graduate nurse Danni (30 Rock‘s Katrina Bowden) and, after being shunned by her, begins exacting a revenge that includes sex, blackmail, murder and a contrived backstory.
The big hook of Nurse is de la Huerta and much of the magnificently fetishistic promotional images play up her exploitation charms. Her disaffected presence and monotone narration is admittedly frequently compelling. She’s an intriguing presence – a bizarre blend of conscious self-parody and authentic lack of talent. Some of her line deliveries are so astoundingly misguided they veer into campy brilliance. Director Doug Aarniokoski knows exactly how to use her unique “skills” but the flick frequently hides its lack of ideas with a conscious “we’re making a bad film on purpose” vibe.
After a strong, well paced first half, Nurse becomes increasingly uninteresting as its focus shifts away from Abby to Danni, transitioning into a conventional Fatal Attraction-styled thriller. Bowden does competent work, despite her character being bland and one-dimensional. A project like this needs escalating wackiness and here we simply get a bland movement into formulaic territory. The gleefully gory final 15 minutes do certainly compensate for many of Nurse‘s shortcomings, serving up a bonkers bloodbath jammed with limb chopping, endless cat fights, anachronistically jaunty music, and an obscene volume of redder-than-red blood. Is it enough to make a viewing worthwhile? I’m not so sure.
Originally presented in 3D, Nurse’s pulpy heritage is still notably present from the cavalcade of sharp things pointed at the viewer to the obsessive way the camera leers over de la Huerta’s shapely figure. Nurse certainly has enough nudity, gore and camp to satisfy most viewers. However, in the end it’s not creative enough to be the true trash classic it so clearly wants to be.
Nurse will be available from Quickflix on April 9, 2014.