Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 1 hour 24 minutes
MPAA Rating: R for Bloody Violence, Strong Sexual Content, Language and some Graphic Nudity
Directed by: Douglas Aarniokoski
Written by: Douglas Aarniokoski & David Loughery
Starring: Paz De La Huerta, Katrina Bowden, Judd Nelson, Corbin Bleu, Boris Kodjoe, Adam Herschman & Niecy Nash
NURSE is a slasher film done with some beautiful style. There I said it. Now that’s been said, I can also say that I really don’t understand the love for it. It may be a trashy film done a little prettier than most (the cinematography is awesome), but it’s still a piece of trash. Nothing particularly new is in the plot and the only aspect that could have made for a really cool gorefest is quickly downgraded to a mere narration. NURSE is just a slasher film with some cool imagery, but that’s all it is. The plot is nothing to write home about and neither is the acting…or kills, when you get right down to it.
Abby has been a strong mentor to newcomer, Danni. What Danni doesn’t know is that her mentor also happens to live a murderous night life. Abby uses her sexuality to lure cheaters into a secluded location and then kill them in horrible ways using her esteemed medical knowledge. After a night out on the town, Danni wakes up in Abby’s apartment and makes it clear that she wants nothing to do with the psycho-bitch. Abby then takes it upon herself to make Danni’s life a living hell, killing anybody that comes in the way of her goal. The kicker (and wasted) element added to this tale is that the story is narrated by Abby, as opposed to Danni. This could have made for something really special, but it seems to be dulled down or flat-out forgotten during long stretches of the film.
The inclusion of the narration might have made for a new(ish) take on a slasher film that we’ve seen countless times in other movies, done far better. Script-wise NURSE doesn’t just stick to Abby’s killings with her own commentary though. We also see Danni doing the whole Nancy Drew routine. She digs into Abby’s past to find that (shocker) the title character may not be who she says she is. The rest of the movie follows the basics of her trying to convince other anybody who will listen that the supposedly attractive nurse (I may be one of those rare men who isn’t turned on by Paz De La Huerta at all) is actually crazy. We also get the standard lack of people willing to believe her for one reason or another.
One might argue (with good reason) that the real stars of slasher movies are not the cast members, but the kills themselves. How do these range? For those who don’t know, NURSE was a film originally shot for 3D. This means that we get a lot of things (both blood stained weapons or hands) being thrown out at the screen at an obnoxious angle. I find that this technique always kind of ruins some of the creativity involved with the kills (e.g. MY BLOODY VALENTINE remake). What negates even more of the gory goodness to be had is when a slasher film resorts to cheap CGI blood or gore. NURSE does this a majority of the time. There were two really solid deaths in NURSE. One of which may have had a little CGI and the other being surprisingly restrained. The first comes in the opening minutes and is guaranteed to make all the males in the audience flinch. The other comes as the final third begins and it’s worth seeing (if you can just find this clip separately). Otherwise, the kills just didn’t do that much for me as one who can appreciate well-done gore.
The performances themselves range from mediocre to just plain bad. Though some will go crazy over Paz De La Huerta’s acting. I really just don’t see her as either a sex symbol or a good actress. She played the typical crazy gal that we’ve seen in SINGLE WHITE FEMALE and FATAL ATTRACTION. Hell, even that terrible film THE ROOMMATE pulled a better performance of a crazy girl from Leighton Meester. The only performance that I really dug (and he’s mostly in the background) was Judd Nelson. Nelson plays a scumbag who frequently gets it on with patients and fellow employees. He was an entertaining presence on the screen.
NURSE may be self-aware and have a cool visual style to it overall, but it doesn’t excuse the story from being so been-there-done-that. We’ve seen this plot a million times and this one happens to be set in a hospital, for the most part. The acting is bad (sans Judd Nelson). The story is by-the-numbers. Nearly all of the kills are uninteresting and loaded with silly looking CGI. The narration from the killer is a cool element that winds up being wasted, when the film constantly shifts into conventional narrative mode. In the end, NURSE may please diehard slasher fans. It really takes something for a slasher film to stand out to me though and NURSE felt like an overly familiar one that had a pretty bow on top in the visual style. Save for a Judd Nelson performance, two great kills, and some cool cinematography, it’s just plain bad! Skip it, if you feel so inclined to do so.