Directed by Doug Aarniokoski
Nurse 3D is proof that there’s a role for everyone. I often wondered if this were true of star Paz de la Huerta during her time on HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire.” There, her exaggerated performance was often jarring alongside more naturalistic actors like Steve Buscemi. As such, I had little faith that Nurse would be anything more than a laughable late-night entry into the “____ from hell” subgenre. And it is. It’s also a delightfully sleazy exploitation picture that doesn’t skimp on mean-spiritedness.
Psychotic nurse Abby (de la Huerta) takes new hire Danni (Katrina Bowden) under her wing during Danni’s first week of employment and instantly develops an obsession with her. The two go out for drinks one evening where Danni is drugged and forced into a threesome with Abby and a stranger. That’s only the start of her problems, however, as Abby interferes with every aspect of her life: She helps widen a rift with her boyfriend, encourages bad behavior at the job, and even takes it upon herself to slaughter her lecherous stepfather.
There’s nothing original here, and shame on you for looking to Nurse 3D with those expectations. This is a bona fide exploitation piece, and director Douglas Aarniokoski knows it. It’s a movie where a renowned surgeon (Judd Nelson) solicits sex from nearly every member of the nursing staff, where his shameless public conquests go ignored by the hospital’s HR woman. Aarniokoski chooses to accent these elements, creating a movie that revels in all the flesh its two leads are willing to show. It doesn’t go five minutes without a gratuitous ass shot. And it culminates in one of the most absurd splatter killing sprees in recent memory. In short, Nurse 3D may not be a trailblazer, no, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun.
It wouldn’t have been that way without Paz de la Huerta in the lead. In the hands of another actor, Nurse 3D might have disappeared alongside any number of films with the same DNA. De la Huerta is so odd that watching her becomes the movie’s greatest joy. Even the simplest line delivery is a baffling choice in her hands, and she’s so wacked off her rocker that we can’t ever buy that she had gone unchecked for this long. It’s just fun to watch her dominate the rest of the cast in her scenes, and right when it looks as though the movie is about to run out of steam, Aarniokoski kicks things into high gear for a bloodbath that’s as hilarious as it is bloody.
If I had a complaint, it’s that Nurse 3D does begin to coast on fumes somewhere in the second act. The earliest kills are relatively tame and de la Huerta is taken out of the action for longer stretches than recommended. But it rebounds nicely, and while the climactic splatter spree is a heck of a lot of fun, it’s also buoyed by chintzy CGI that will undoubtedly displease some older school fans looking for this to be a bona fide throwback. It also lets Niecy Nash off the hook without suffering a gruesome fate, which is the movie’s biggest sin.
If you’ve seen either the trailer or the colorful ad campaign (hard to miss if you’re a Dread Central reader), then you already know if Nurse 3D is in your wheelhouse. I had a great time with the goofiness and welcomed the experience. A lot of folks are likely to balk at its existence and move on, but trash filmmaking is incredibly difficult to pull off. There’s too often a wink at the camera or a nudge that tells us that everyone is in on the joke. Nurse 3D knows what it is, but it’s never compelled to let us know that it knows.
3 out of 5