Be wary of Judge Gordon Sullivan and his syringe.
Your pain is her pleasure.
Nurse 3D opens with an on-screen statistic that's meant to set the scene: the profession that can boast the most number of known serial killers is the medical profession. The film wants to fill our heads with lurid images of death-dealing doctors, who in true Hannibal Lector style slice and dice their way through life. The mundane reality is more likely that "angels of mercy" are a type of serial killer—those who kill anyone under their care—and their victims are often the terminally-ill or those perceived to be weak. This is not the colorful surgery of Jack the Ripper, but a couple of extra CCs of morphine to an already-dying patient. The difference between the titillating representation and disappointing reality perfectly describes Nurse 3D, which promises campy bloody fun but instead offers tepid thrills.
Facts of the Case
Abby (Paz de la Huerta, Boardwalk Empire) is a nurse with a special hobby: she likes to dress provocatively and seduce married men. Once she's discovered how willing they are to cheat on their wives, she delivers her own brand of justice by dispatching them. When new nurse Danni (Katrina Bowden, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil) joins All Saints Hospital team, Abby finds a friend with whom she quickly becomes obsessed. When Abby doesn't share that obsession, things get dangerous.
Part of the success of any film is setting up some expectations and meeting them. Nurse 3D wants to be a campy, trashy take on the woman-centric psycho genre. There's plenty of room there to have fun, show some nudity, and kill a bunch of people senselessly. The problem is the film never quite figures out what it wants to be.
Everything starts with the script. With a knowing wink, the film opens with narration from Abby about her murderous ways. It's delivered in an oddly deadpan way by Paz de la Huerta, but what really sinks in are the lines about men being cultured in an "alcoholic petri dish." It almost works. The imagery isn't something you'd find in a mainstream film, but it's neither good enough to be distinctive, nor bad enough to be laughable. Instead, the line sits there, more puzzling than anything else, which extends to the rest of the writing. Nurse 3D is clever enough to give a nod and a wink to the audience, but not clever enough to bring something original to the show.
But, you might cry, I'm over-thinking things. Nurse 3D isn't about clever writing, it's about nudity and gore and being trashy and fun. So yes, the film does have those things. However, the blood and violence is largely CGI, and ultimately not that inventive. That combo may work for some, but shiny computer blood plus tame kills equals yawns for me. And yes, there is nudity. Paz de la Huerta seems to get paid by the square inch of exposed flesh, but again none of it feels trashy or fun. Her line deliveries are monotone and deadpan, and the nudity feels the same—utterly uninspired.
What Nurse 3D can't overcome is the feeling of "been there, done that." The plot is Single White Female in a nurse's uniform. The attempts at showing up male fantasies only end up reinforcing gender stereotypes. The violence feels rote, and the actors bused in from a different movie.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
It's hard to talk about a bad "bad" movie like Nurse, because even if I don't love it, I don't hate it either. There's something to be said for it, because there is nudity, blood, and a crazy killer. If nothing else, viewers with low expectations might appreciate the film's ambience. Of course, part of the problem is the trailer and artwork build the film up to heights it just can't deliver on. As long as you're not seeking an exploitation classic, you'll probably enjoy it more.
I also can't say anything bad about the way the film looks. Stylized to a fare-thee-well, where else can you see a hospital lit like a strip club? It might be fun to put Nurse on during a party as a background visual, the CGI bloodspray and goofy 3D effects acting as décor. Given that director Douglas Aarniokoski is also responsible for Highlander: End Game, this one seems to represent a step up in terms of visual storytelling.
Lionsgate gives Nurse 3D (Blu-ray) a solid release. The 2D and 3D versions are on the same Blu-ray disc, which is housed in a standard keepcase with a slipcover. Both versions feature a 2.40:1/1080p image (AVC encoded for 2D, MVC encoded for 3D). Detail is strong throughout, with nice textures in things like lacy undergarments and facial close-ups. Colors are well-saturated, though the film doesn't look naturalistic, while black levels stay deep and consistent. In the end, this transfer looks much better than it has any right to. The 3D effects are mostly gags, the usual "stuff coming out of the screen" gimmicks that won't tempt anyone to upgrade their display. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track is similarly impressive. Dialogue is always clean, clear, and well balanced with the film's music. There's a good bit of directionality from the surrounds during action scenes as well.
Extras start with a commentary from writer/director Aaroniokiski, a surprisingly balanced affair in which he dishes on everything from the origins of the film to the difficulties encountered during production. A fairly standard making-of featurette is also included, offering eight minutes of clips and interviews. Finally, a short set of video diaries offers a bit more behind the scenes footage. An UltraViolet digital copy is also included.
The trailer for Nurse 3D leads viewers to expect a crazy, campy take on the female-psycho genre. The film delivers on the promise, but only in the most mediocre way. Chances are if a film like this appeals to you, watching won't be a total waste. Just keep your expectations low.
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