Director: Doug Aarniokoski
Writer: David Loughery, Doug Aarniokoski
Producer: Marc Bienstock
Stars: Paz de la Huerta, Katrina Bowden, Corbin Bleu, Judd Nelson, Boris Kodjoe, Adam Herschman, Niecy Nash, Martin Donovan, Kathleen Turner
A psychopathic nurse risks exposing her murderous secret life when the hospital’s newest staff member resists her advances.
Judging by her performances in “Boardwalk Empire” and “Nurse 3D,” Paz de la Huerta is either brilliantly talented when it comes to portraying pouty starlet sexbombs prone to sleepy-eyed loopiness, or her agent knows how to cherry pick roles that work around whatever she cannot do as an actress. Until she shows her chops in a role that demands something other than coked-out crazy or slowly delivered monotones, her naysayers will continue to bemoan a perceived lack of talent. But “Nurse 3D” is a movie that would never have any chance of working without the je ne sais quoi uniqueness she leaves in the wake of her seductive strut. Say what you want about her abilities, but the woman has an undeniable screen presence that is perfectly ripened for flavoring the character of Nurse Abby Russell.
Abby is a new breed of “Angel of Mercy” killer nurse euthanizing men with wandering eyes and wandering hands, one of which bears a finger occupied by a ring. Her mercy is not for her philandering husband victims, but for the unknowingly suffering wives Abby spares from the heartbreak of uncovering a cheating spouse. A childhood tragedy naturally warped the poor girl’s brain and now slashing throats and genitals in equal measure is the best way Abby knows how to cope.
Katrina Bowden of “30 Rock” plays hot young nursing staff newbie Danni, who ends up as Abby’s target not for the knife, but for a lesbian love affair Danni has no interest in. If there is any certainty in a “scorned (fill in the blank) from hell” thriller, it is that spurning unwanted advances is a fast way to turn a brain-damaged sociopath into a hot-headed psychopath. Or in this case, an even bigger psychopath.
It’s a familiar setup, and a thin one at that, but all “Nurse 3D” ever wants from its story is a frame for stylized cinematic sultriness and sly barbs of dark comedy to offset mostly frivolous content. “Nurse 3D” is tuned into its siren-like strengths and is even more acutely aware of how to play to those positives in ways designed for pulling a rise from its audience.
Rarely is there a scene without a carefully placed peek of a garter strap or a full-on glance at a sleek feminine curve teasing with a tight uniform, see-through tease, or unabashed nakedness. Sexiness is the film’s stock in trade. Director Doug Aarniokoski knows how to stage it, cinematographer Boris Mojsovski knows how to frame it, and Paz de la Huerta knows how to sell it. She knows precisely how to work the head down, eyes up leer and she does it well.
The comedic bent is far less on point, but “Nurse 3D” puts the tone right where it should be with a soundtrack full of rumbas, mambos, and bossa nova beats reflecting a pulse of playful pep. When the delicacy seems like not enough, there is also the upfront approach in the form of a sassy Black co-worker who provides more direct comic relief.
“Nurse 3D” has enough personality coming from an experienced cast to keep it cruising towards favorability until the movie finally delivers on its horror angle and bobbles its identity in the process. If ever a case study were needed to showcase why digital blood cannot hold a candle to practical Karo corn syrup, the “Nurse 3D” finale is it.
Act three is even more impossibly over the top than the preceding two with a blood-soaked horror show featuring more reds than communist Russia. The cartoon coloring and too perfectly animated fountain showers are probably the film’s way of accenting its not-so-serious vibe while killing a second bird of skating past the MPAA with an R rating. The balls out break from the subtler streak of campy self-awareness is sloppy in more ways than just onscreen gore. Closing sequences slap final scenes together in a haphazard manner that rushes the wrap-up and leaves more than one spotlight character in the lurch as far as satisfying resolutions go. It’s as if the film says, “I guess that’s good enough” before taking its ball and going home.
Before the clunky denouement, “Nurse 3D” fills a prescription written in its own handwriting for a heavy dose of provocative allure and titillating trampiness. How smooth that pill goes down depends on one’s susceptibility to Paz de la Huerta’s charms. She, like the movie, can remain hotly debated on a quality level, but denying the way that both demand eyes to be turned towards the screen is a much harder argument to win.
Review Score: 65