“NURSE 3D” (Movie Review)
There’s a point in the long-delayed psycho thriller NURSE 3D where our anti-heroine, the deranged and lovestruck RN Abby Russell hisses, in hard-boiled noir-tinted voice over, that she “ate” the protagonist’s “ass” and “fingered her to three orgasms.” It’s a delightfully off-color passage, one whose effect defines the lurid appeal of co-writer/director Douglas Aarniokoski’s sex-soaked shocker. After you get past the frisson of the pornographic wordplay, you jump to a tension-breaking laugh, before locking in a state of mild arousal (and really, what living organism wouldn’t be aroused by the lady playing Abby, Amazonian actress Paz de la Huerta?) and then, after running this gamut of sensation, you’re also left with the feeling that maybe the movie is just low-grade trash. Maybe it’s all beneath your otherwise sophisticated cinematic palette. But by the time you seriously start believing that, something explicitly violent and sexually outrageous has happened and you know what? You just don’t give a damn.
Because no matter what NURSE 3D is or isn’t, as an entertainment, it rocks.
The film does indeed star the impossibly built de la Huerta (HBO’s BOARDWALK EMPIRE) as Abby, the titular nurse who slinks into her latest hospital of employ, curves busting at the seams of costume designer Zaldy’s stylized RN outfits (every nurse in NURSE looks like they sauntered out of an illustrated WWII propaganda poster) and getting instantly obsessed with her comely, yet innocent, co-worker Dani (TUCKER AND DALE VS. EVIL’s Katrina Bowden). It seems Abby is more than a bit troubled. Due to a childhood trauma, this pouty, living, breathing malpractice suit traps adulterous men in compromising positions before mutilating their members and worse, in a cross-eyed attempt to be a kind of sanctimonious moral watchdog. But a righteous vigilante Abby is not. Looking for love in all the wrong places, Abby is a sociopathic, murdering monster, a succubus-like hellion who, when her date-rape advances are spurned, proceeds to make life hell for poor Dani. As the twisty, turny, blackly hilarious narrative gushes on, NURSE 3D breaks down into a full-blown, relentlessly red splatter-toon, one that doesn’t end well, but does indeed leave room for a sequel.
Aarniokoski (who after a career as an AD in everything from Full Moon to Robert Rodriguez films made a splash a few years ago with his top-notch directorial effort THE DAY) is clearly having a blast framing and hammering home the smutty action here, wholly aware of the kind of film he’s making and satirizing. NURSE 3D is like GENERAL HOSPITAL on steroids, a 12 year old boy’s wet dream version of ST. ELSEWHERE and a Russ Meyer riff on SINGLE WHITE FEMALE. Everyone involved in the production is in on the joke and the performances are pitch perfect, with Bowden standing out in a sexy, spunky Nancy Drew-ish turn as an idealist who must race the clock to uncover Abby’s true identity and halt her personal downward spiral. ‘80s brat pack high priest Judd Nelson is fantastic as a leering, randy surgeon whose skill is rivaled by his reputation as the hospital’s biggest pussy-hound. And of course, there’s Paz…
Sneering, purring, snarling and screaming her way across the screen, de la Huerta is a force of nature and the most uninhibited performer you’re likely to see in a horror movie this year. Tales of the production relayed to Fango over the years (the film was shot in 2011 but due to studio shenanigans, was endlessly delayed) spoke of the actress never breaking character, in or out of clothing. FX wizard Paul Jones remembers standing in line at craft services with a bare- buxom-bottomed Paz filling her plate. We believe it, as de la Huerta is utterly committed to becoming Abby, miraculously creating a three dimensional character out of what could have very easily slipped into empty-calorie comic book crap.
Trash or treasure, art or junk, I loved NURSE 3D and—full disclosure—I didn’t even see it in 3D, an unfortunate issue I hope to correct eventually. But no matter. With all the flesh, blood and hysteria being pumped at the audience endlessly, the film certainly felt like the assault it was intended to be. And frankly, in retrospect, Paz is just so larger than life, it might actually be too much to see her thrust her patented brand of operatically hot madness out from the confines of the screen.
So yes, please, see NURSE 3D (or 2D or DD or…). Thank us later.