Directed By: Douglas Aarniokoski
Starring: Kathleen Turner, Judd Nelson, Katrina Bowden
Tag line: "Your pain is her pleasure"
Trivia: This movie was nominated for 2 Golden Trailer Awards, including Trashiest Trailer
It’s fairly easy to figure out what drives O.R. nurse Abby Russell (Paz de la Huerta), the demented lead character of 2013’s Nurse, to take her frustrations out on married men that cheat on their wives. Early on, director Douglas Aarniokoski provides us with a brief flashback in which a young Abby (played as a child by Katia Peel) pays a visit to her father’s office, bursting through the door unannounced in the hopes of surprising him. We don’t see the results of this encounter until much later in the film, but come on… from this description alone, I’m sure you can guess what Abby saw when she opened that door. It's not exactly a mystery, but to be fair, Nurse isn’t a movie about the traumas of the past. It’s not interested in delving into Abby’s motivations, or profiling a serial killer operating within the healthcare system. With blood and nudity aplenty, Nurse is as exploitative as they come, and that’s what makes it so entertaining.
Over the years, Abby has become a pro at seducing married men, and always manages to show them the error of their ways (though very few are given enough time to repent). But she has other interests as well. For example, she’s quite attached to Danni (Katrina Bowden), a student nurse she herself mentored. You might even say Abby is obsessed with her (she grows jealous whenever she sees Danni with her EMT boyfriend Steve, played by Corbin Bleu). One night, Abby invites Danni, who’s just discovered that her stepfather Larry (Martin Donovan) is cheating on her mother, out for a few drinks. While at a club, Abby slips roofies into Danni’s glass, resulting in an evening of unbridled passion (both Abby and a stranger they met at the club take turns having their way with the heavily drugged Danni). When Danni awakens the next morning, she doesn’t remember a thing, but it isn’t long before she realizes Abby is infatuated with her. And as the young nurse soon learns, Abby Russell isn’t the sort of person who takes “no” for an answer.
Paz de la Huerta shines as the sensually psychotic Abby, who, when we first meet her, is heading out for a night on the town in a dress that leaves nothing to the imagination. Within moments of walking into a nightclub, she’s approached by Fred (Chris Hoffman), who quickly hides his wedding ring before offering to buy her a drink. From there, the two head up to the roof, where Abby has a few surprises in store for the unfaithful Fred. In this scene, and many others, de la Huerta is as alluring as she is dangerous, going from drop-dead sexy (she sheds her clothes numerous times throughout the film, and never seems in a hurry to put them back on) to incredibly frightening in the blink of an eye (her seduction of Danni’s stepfather is chilling, to say the least).
Where Nurse falters, apart from its sub-par CGi (simply put, low-budget outings like Nurse lack the necessary funds to make computer graphics look convincing), is the way it deviates from its initial plot line. Following the opening scene, which establishes Abby’s personal vendetta against cheaters, the movie veers off in a different direction, exploring her disastrous relationship with Danni, which, though interesting, is never as much fun as the “woman on a mission” aspect of her story. Luckily, the filmmakers had de la Huerta to fall back on. Her performance, coupled with Aarniokoski’s stylish approach to the material, keeps things rolling along nicely, and infuses Nurse with a personality that’s absolutely enticing.