If gratuitous sex and violence bugs you, steer clear of Nurse. Paz de la Huerta stars as a psychotic hospital worker who becomes infatuated, in a Single White Female kind of way, with a rookie nurse played by Katrina Bowden. You may remember Bowden as the ditsy blonde on 30 Rock or the smart blonde from Tucker & Dale vs. Evil. I think she’s a surprisingly good actress who deserves to be in better flicks than Nurse.
Huerta, on the other hand, seems universally hated by moviegoers. I don’t know why. I think she’s perfect for Nurse and what it’s trying to be. To be clear, it’s not trying to be much, but that’s part of the charm. I came this close to seeing this one in the theater, and had I gone I wouldn’t have felt cheated. America just doesn’t make movies like this anymore. It’s a wonder it actually made it into theaters.
The exploitation film is a dying breed. Anything even remotely resembling the bawdy fun of pre-blockbuster genre flicks is almost exclusively done ironically these days. Now, Nurse isn’t a great exploitation film, but it’s an honest one which is elevated by the fact there’s not a whole lot to choose from anymore. I’d rate it high above a late night 90s thriller and a little bit below Basic Instinct. Speaking of Basic Instinct: if the Sharon Stone leg-cross shocked you, Huerta will give you a heart attack.
I happen to love deadly women movies. In the first scene, Huerta is shown scouring a nightclub for unfaithful husbands. She finds one, seduces him, and leads him to the rooftop of a tall building. There she gives him a handjob before nicking his femoral artery with a scalpel. While he’s bleeding out, she gives a decent little killer speech and shoves him over the edge. Several stories below he’s impaled on an iron fence. Like most of the kills in the movie, there’s a strange mixture of practical effects and CGI, as if they originally planned to do it the right way, then decided to amp up the blood in post. It’s a cheat, but it’s a damned sight better than the entirely CGI stuff in Midnight Meat Train.
Kathleen Turner is in the movie for approximately thirty seconds and never seen again, Judd Nelson appears as a perverted doctor who gets the second best murder scene of the entire movie (not a spoiler as you can tell he was born to die from the very second he appears on screen), and Reno 911’s Niecy Nash plays a pretty good comedic relief. Dumb logic and unnecessary voiceovers aside, I quite liked Nurse.
There’s a scene near the end which is unexpectedly disturbing. It’s undercut by a Silence of the Lambs rip-off, but what Huerta does when cornered in a room full of bedridden patients is one of the most visceral things I’ve ever seen and, thankfully, the filmmakers don’t ruin that part with CGI. In fact, had they used no CGI at all, I probably could have given this one a four on the gore rating.