The FILM IN WORDS Netflix Film of the Week: helping you navigate the filmic minefield of the nation’s favourite video streaming service.
Words: Brody Rossiter
In all honesty, I’m not entirely sure why I’m recommending Nurse for this week’s Netflix Film of the Week. On a personal level, I often elect to ruminate upon the inner-workings of American independent cinema, specifically pictures which are romantic in storytelling nature. Therefore, in attempting to change things up, I couldn’t find a more contrasting example of filmmaking than Director Douglas Aamiokoski’s garish, gore infatuated tale of a nurse whose bedside manner consists of prescribing poison and utilising power tools upon her patients. However, it’s much more accurate to believe that the impression that Nurse left upon me, an impression which was largely negative, yet nevertheless lasting, is worth sharing with fellow Netflix subscribers.
Starring the inconceivably sultry Paz de la Huerta as Abby Russell (a senior nurse at the setting of much of the films flamboyant, blood-splattered action, All Saints Hospital), a torrid concoction of femme fatale, anti-heroine and unhinged tantrum prone woman child, Nurse is a tale of revenge, murder and unhealthy infatuation. Every night after clocking off, Abbey uses her ample feminine charms to seduce and brutally murder unfaithful married men – a habit exhibited in a wonderfully overblown opening death sequence. After inexplicably falling for one of All Saints’ newest nurses, Danni (Katrina Bowden), Abbey attempts to pry the timid girl next door out of her boyfriend’s arms and coerce her into bed – by any viscera shredding means necessary of course.
First things first, if unnecessary female nudity isn’t your bag, then Nurse isn’t the film for you. There’s lots of it, and it’s unashamed. The film straddles a thin line between sleazebag exploitation and nipple caressing eroticism that will titillate and frustrate in equal measure. However as opposed to those late 70’s grindhouse flicks that also fetishized professions such as nursing (prison guard was also a popular go-to) and the supposed “secret lives” of its employees (unexplained lesbian urges being chief among such hush-hush after-hours activity), Nurse is a much more self-aware affair, utilising its X-rated imagery (much of which is produced by a habitually naked Paz de la Huerta) to poke fun at such archaic cinematic conventions while also cynically taking advantage of their salacious appeal. Unfortunately, the merits of Paz de la Huerta’s performance aren’t up for debate; she’s not a particularly good actress. Yet, her portrayal of the unhinged matron is inescapably sensual and powerfully physical, highlighting her talent for portraying both bodily horror and pleasures of the flesh.
Nurse is a terrible, terrible film, and yet it’s also a fantastically self-deprecating example of its trashy b-movie genre that creates a big, bloody and impactful splash despite its obvious shortcomings. Whether you love it, hate it, or like me just can’t decide, you won’t soon forget it.