PLOT: Abby Russell is a caring nurse by day, killer of lecherous men by night. When the object of her affection, a rookie nurse named Danni, spurns her advances, the already-unstable murderess goes on a rampage that should keep her quite busy at her day job.
REVIEW: Where to begin with NURSE (aka NURSE 3D in select theaters)? I guess we begin with Paz de la Huerta. Hell, of course we do: She portrays the nurse of the title, a thoroughly wacky dame who deems it her mission to punish cheaters, and it's the role she was born to play. Don't get me wrong: Paz is not an accomplished actress (despite the fact she was on "Boardwalk Empire"). She's not even "okay"; she is, in fact, remarkably ridiculous to watch and listen to. But she is just right for this part and for this movie, which takes pride in making every sequence as sordid, unwholesome and silly as possible. NURSE has all the maturity and grace of an alley cat.
And I have to shamefully admit that it's quite a bit of fun.
You have to know what you're getting into, however. This is pure junk food. Those looking for any kind of reputable horror effort or meaty revenge drama in the vein of FATAL ATTRACTION will blow off NURSE's brand of sleaze five minutes in. That's when we meet Abby Russell (de la Huerta), who in voice over immediately gives us the lowdown on her Angel of Vengeance schtick and follows it up by luring an unfaithful man to the roof of a club, slicing his groin with a scalpel, and tossing him over the ledge (where of course he lands perfectly on a spiked fence). The movie's tone is swiftly established as being tongue-in-cheek, but with just enough mean-spirited edge so it won't be mistaken for a flat-out comedy. (That doesn't stop is from being one of the funniest movies you're likely to see this year.)
Like any horror movie dealing with a villainous woman on the edge of sanity (or well past it), the plot of NURSE boils down to obsession. Abby, when she's not killing lecherous men, is helping to mentor a new crop of nurses; one of them, Danni (Katrina Bowden), blond, bright and sweet, catches Abby's eye. The film never goes so far as to call Abby a lesbian; we can presume she's just a nutter whose obsessions change monthly, and this month's lucky contestant is Danni, who is dating handsome paramedic Steve (Corbin Bleu). Overwhelmed by the workload during her first few days, Danni is taken out on the town by Abby, who drugs her, sleeps with her and takes pictures of the passed out girl in compromising positions. Though she doesn't remember the incident, Danni is quickly put off by Abby's clingy weirdness, and attempts to back off from the friendship… Not so easily done.
NURSE goes through some of the predictable twists and turns; Abby is able to expertly frame Danni and make her look like the obsessive freak while attempting to thin out the competition and pluck out the bad people in Danni's life. (Danni's sleazy step-father and a pervy doctor get what's coming to them.) But plot isn't what matters in a movie so single-mindedly intent on prodding you into fits of shocked laughter. Writer-director Doug Aarniokoski knows we came for nudity, torrents of blood and absurd one-liners, and he certainly delivers on all fronts (the finale in particular splashes the red stuff around with gusto). That the movie never once resembles anything close to realism is intentional; NURSE was conceived as a guilty pleasure from day one and it absolutely shows.
But back to Paz. Wow. This has got to be considered one of the best "bad" performances in recent memory. She purrs, she struts around like Betty Boop, she exaggeratedly purses her lips together and just generally appears to be phoning in her performance from outer space. The actress sports some kind of accent that is totally unplaceable - or perhaps she just has a deliberately odd way of speaking - which lends her every line of heavy-handed dialogue with an added punch of hilarity. It is perfect casting, matching someone who I imagine is rather unbalanced with a character who is stark-raving mad. You need to hear de la Huerta scream "Dannnnniiii!" in slow-motion toward the end of this movie, because I'll tell you right now it rivals any of the bombastic moments in MOMMIE DEAREST, that pinnacle of unintentionally gut-busting flicks.
For all its tackiness, NURSE is surprisingly polished. Technically the movie has a slick, professional look. Well, perhaps "professional" isn't the right word, since the camera ogles de la Huerta's backside every chance it gets - the cinematographer should be brought up on charges. But that sense of lewdness is fitting, seeing how the actress is often naked from the waist down or wearing something so skin-tight it becomes a part of her. You will know Paz's booty as intimately as you could ever hope for by the time NURSE is over. She and NURSE are most definitely naughty, and you're probably going to enjoy being naughty along with them.