Ever since Nurse Ratched terrorized Chief Bromden and Randle McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, nurses have been slotted into two categories by Hollywood writers. There’s the battle axe, like Ratched and Sister Jude in American Horror Story: Asylum (to give a more recent example), and the naughty nurse, like Dakota Block in Planet Terror, Elle Driver in Kill Bill and any number of adult actresses. To my knowledge, however, no film has ever combined the two with such nutty results as Nurse 3D.
Paz de la Huerta proves an inspired choice to play Abby Russell, a devoted nurse by day who stalks through clubs at night, murdering men she seduces into cheating on their wives. When Abby goes out drinking one night with new nurse Danni (Katrina Bowden) and finds herself intensely attracted to the young woman, she spends the night with her and begins to pursue her romantically. When Danni makes the mistake of rejecting Abby’s advances, however, Abby becomes obsessed with tormenting the unsuspecting nurse. As Abby’s dark alter ego threatens to come to light, she grows noticeably more unhinged and focused on ripping Danni’s life apart – but can Danni put the pieces together fast enough to prevent a bloodbath?
This is not an Oscar-quality movie. In fact, some might say it’s even a Razzie-quality movie. I wouldn’t go quite that far though, especially considering Nurse 3D‘s obvious self-awareness. It’s a stylish sexploitation flick, and it’s not masquerading as anything more, which I have to give it props for. De la Huerta reads every line with cold, robotic indifference, rarely betraying even a trace of emotion in her voice. Improbably, the actress’s lack of dramatic depth actually adds to the characterization – Abby is like a sexy female Terminator, flatly reciting ludicrous pieces of dialogue like, “There is no cure for the married cock – only me, the nurse.” Even as she slashes and maims and tortures, de la Huerta keeps a straight face, delivering a surprisingly fun portrayal of total psychopathy.
Bowden is also well-cast as Abby’s hapless victim, who’s given hilariously bad lines to chew on and demonstrates admirable commitment to the Skinemax vibe that director-writer Doug Aarniokoski was clearly aiming for. There’s nothing about her performance that’s particularly exciting, but the actress doesn’t make a fool of herself either, and her stunning looks should alone be enough to satisfy Nurse 3D‘s target audience.
Both actresses are undressed for what feels like the majority of the film, and, in particular, de la Huerta goes for broke. The actress has some eye-popping nudity that will surely ensure she receives plenty of job offers in horror fare like this for the foreseeable future. There’s a fascinating physical quality to de la Huerta’s performance that makes her a great fit for the part – even while unclothed, the actress carries herself like some kind of coquettish automaton. Again, Nurse 3D is not aiming to win any awards, but fans of sexploitation horror will leave satisfied.
As far as plot goes, there’s nothing particularly exciting about Nurse 3D. If you’ve seen Single White Female, you’ve basically already seen this film, only done better. Aarniokoski fails to add enough dark humor into the plot to make the stretches of ultraviolence feel earned, and some of the dialogue isn’t so-bad-it’s-good as much as just plain awful. He’s better behind the camera, however, pulling off a number of impressive, unusual shots. It’s clear that Aarniokoski and his DP Boris Mojsovski had a distinct vision for Nurse 3D, and while little in the final product matches the vampish thrills of the film’s teaser poster, the pair still add in some nice touches. The fact that they were shooting in notoriously troublesome 3D just makes their most interesting shots (like a man plummeting towards an iron fence) all the more exciting.
Go in expecting a bit of gory, gruesome fun, and you’ll have a good time with Nurse 3D. That’s all the film offers, and anyone looking for dramatic depth, a coherent plot or fine acting should look elsewhere. Still, I have a feeling that this flick’s average viewer will get by just fine without any of those three.
Nurse 3D got a solid Blu-Ray package from Lionsgate. The strong 1080p video transfer pays special attention to detail and lighting, which was a must for a movie that relies on both so heavily. In particular, close-ups of characters’ faces show stray hairs, freckles and (in the film’s gloriously gory finale) flecks of blood with perfect clarity. The black levels are suitably inky for a horror film such as this, and the skin tones look natural (a plus considering how much bare skin is on screen).
The film comes with 3D and 2D versions; though I could question why Nurse needed to be in 3D at all, seeing as there aren’t that many scenes when the technology is effectively utilized, the home release handles 3D very well. Detail remains strong, and there are some great jump-out moments that the 3D really enhances. If you’re going to pick up Nurse 3D, nothing should stand in the way of you getting the 3D Blu-Ray.
Nurse 3D‘s 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is more than enough to satisfy. The film’s score, by Anton Sanko, is a blast to listen to, and the audio track presents it at its foot-stomping best. Dialogue is all crystal clear, so any points of confusion would have to come from de la Huerta’s sometimes distracting accent. Background sound effects, like rain falling and people bumping past each other in the hospital halls, are also well-implemented. All in all, this is a strong, enjoyable audio track.
The disc only really falls flat when it comes to special features. Nurse 3D includes:
- “Bad Medicine: The Making of Nurse” Featurette
- Director Commentary
- Video Diaries
The eight-minute featurette allows Nurse 3D‘s cast to explain their varying degrees of familiarity with the horror genre. Director/writer Doug Aarniokoski, stars Katrina Bowden, Paz de la Huerta, Judd Nelson and more add their two cents about Abby’s motivations, what makes Nurse 3D different from other horror flicks, and their experiences on set. It’s a by-the-book but well-executed bonus feature that I really wish could have been extended to take a closer look at filming.
Aarniokoski delivers an even, enthusiastic commentary in which he deconstructs scenes, discusses character development, gives shout-outs to various individuals who made ambitious shots happen, talks about filmmaking as a whole and states his position on the slasher flick subgenre into which Nurse 3D falls. Though the track certainly isn’t painful to listen to, I’d only recommend it for people who absolutely loved the film.
Finally, the Video Diaries featurette, which clocks in at around six minutes, cuts back and forth between video diaries recorded by Katrina Bowden and Corbin Bleu. We see Bowden working out, in the makeup chair, on set, baking cookies and doing various other chores. Meanwhile, Bleu plays obnoxious practical jokes on New Yorkers, leaving fake dung in the subway and cozying up to strangers on park benches. How interested you are in seeing that actors are just like us will determine whether the featurette is worth your time. Honestly, it felt like shoddy filler material to me.
Nurse 3D‘s video and audio quality is top-notch, so there’s no reason that horror aficionados shouldn’t add this flick to their shopping carts. Paz de la Huerta’s batty, sexy performance is definitely worth your time, and director Doug Aarniokoski is skilled enough behind the camera to create some really cool shots that belong in a movie with far loftier ambitions than this one. It’s not a great film by a long stretch, but Nurse 3D is just crazy enough to make up for its flaws.