The Nurse (1997) poster

The Nurse (1997)


USA. 1997.


Director – Rob Malenfant, Screenplay – Richard Brandes, Producers – Richard Brandes & Pierre David, Photography – Feliks Parnell, Music – Richard Bowers, Special Effects Supervisor – Theodore R. Coplen, Production Design – Robyn Buschmann. Production Company – Image Organization/Ventana Productions.


Lisa Zane (Laura Harriman), Janet Gunn (Karen Martin), Michael Fairman (Bob Martin), John Stockwell (Jack Martin), Nancy Dussault (Carol Martin), William R. Moses (Michael), Jay Underwood (John Beecher)


After a newspaper prints an article stating that nurse Laura Harriman’s father was fired from his job for embezzlement, he shoots the rest of her family and then himself. When he hears what happened, the newspaper’s editor Bob Martin has a stroke and is left paralysed and unable to move. Laura swears revenge on Martin and contrives to get the job as his nurse. Letting him know who she is, and with him unable to communicate or do anything about it, she starts killing the members of his family off one by one.

The Nurse was another of producer Pierre David’s made-to-formula psycho-thrillers – see also The Paperboy (1994), Stalked (1994), The Secretary (1995), Daddy’s Girl (1996), The Perfect Nanny (2000) and the fine The Landlady (1997), among a good many others.

Irrespective it seems of who either directs or writes Pierre David’s thrillers – at least the earlier ones, the later ones pick up considerably – they feel as though they are made to exactly the same limited formula – the plots invariably centre around a household that is invaded by a deranged individual who starts killing their way through family members and/or friends. Equally, all of Pierre David’s films seem directed to much of a bland muchness, with stock thriller tropes that are telegraphed miles in advance by the script – one can see here plot devices being set up a long way in advance when Nancy Dussault’s problems with insulin overdose are mentioned, or early on when there is a near-fatal accident with potassium chloride.

Lisa Zane as The Nurse (1997)
Lisa Zane as vengeance seeking nurse Lisa Harriman

Like most of Pierre David’s thrillers, The Nurse is conducted with a routine competence. There are one or two twists that might have worked under a better director – like the moment the intrusive tabloid reporter turns up at the door of the house to find the daughter of the dead father working as the nurse; or where Janet Gunn comes jogging past the van moments after Lisa Zane has just killed someone and hidden the body in the back.

What many of Pierre David’s early thrillers need is some of the dark, obsessive undertow or the psycho-sexual contortedness of films like The Stepfather (1987), The Silence of the Lambs (1991), Basic Instinct (1992) or Se7en (1995). Instead, they remain flatly trapped at a pedestrian surface level as though they had been intended as formula tv movies. Lisa Zane (the sister of the better-known Billy) plays the title role far too broadly to be effective.

Full film available here

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