Now available on DVD
Chidjan Rujiphun as Nook
Dollaros Dachapratumwan as Jo
Kanya Rattapetch as Ae
Chon Wachananon as Tawan
Directed by Piraphan Laoyont and Thodsapol Siriwiwat
At first glance, the Thai thriller Sick Nurses looks like another worthless contribution to the J-horror trend. In truth, it is a fairly unique lovechild of the popular vengeful-ghost stories and modern slasher films. An entertaining female cast, creative directing, and some clever death scenes keep this film from disappearing into the masses of Ju-On spin-offs. However, it is not without its flaws, including a few absurd twists and occasionally awful CGI gore. Furthermore, the cool moments are too infrequent to make this a great horror, but it has enough twisted humor to keep you entertained.
In a run-down hospital, a respected doctor and his young nursing staff have been secretly selling dead bodies on the black market. When the doctor’s nurse girlfriend Tahwaan discovers he is having an affair, she threatens to expose his illegal racket to the police. Before she can do so, the other six nurses strap her to an operating table and kill her. They plan to sell her body, preferably within seven days because it is said that a murdered soul will come back in seven days for the one it loves â and to exact revenge. Sure enough, Tahwaan’s ghost returns to the hospital seven days later to do just that.
One by one, the ghost preys on her former colleagues using their individual weaknesses and obsessions. What follows are some clever torments, like a bulimic nurse forced to ingest a variety of horrible things, or a pair of narcissistic twins trapped in a room of mirrors. Some of the death scenes are less obvious in their attempts at irony but all are entertaining and unique. The pattern of kills plays out much like a slasher film, and this movie wastes no time getting down to the good stuff. Tahwaan kicks off her revenge spree within the first 10 minutes, and thereafter the backstory is told through flashbacks. This tactic keeps the film moving at a fast, efficient pace.
All the nurses being hunted by the ghost are entertaining to watch. They are murderous monsters hidden behind the guises of average Thai girls – a beauty queen, a tomboy, a fitness nut, a blushing bride-to-be, and two giddy sisters. The sextet’s violent act and subsequent lack of remorse reminds me of the badass girls in Battle Royale – willing and ready to kill without a moment’s hesitation. I only wish Sick Nurses spent more time with each of the ladies before they get their just deserts. They behave badly and look pretty good doing it. The ghost herself is a little silly looking. She has coal-black skin and Ringu-esque hair, and she dresses like Stevie Nicks. Consequently, Tahwaan is actually scarier in human form.
Directors Thospol Sirivivat and Piraphan Laoyont throw in a few unique shots that prove they do more than just point-and-shoot with this horror film. The cleverest shots in the movie are subtle and may only be evident upon second viewing. The filmmakers do not beat you over the head with a “Look at me!” style (save a few extreme POV shots). Their script also maintains a quirky, black sense of humor throughout â so much that the film seems to mock its own genre at times. The writers do get a little overzealous when the story takes a ridiculous turn or two, but to elaborate further would encroach upon spoiler territory.
For gore hounds, there are only one or two pay-offs. The first real sight of blood comes 45 minutes into this 82-minute movie. Perhaps this sad lack of gore can be attributed to the censorship that evidently marred the film’s production. Case in point, a significant part of the original ending was made less violent to appease Thailand’s Board of Censors. Perhaps even worse than the censorship is the film’s use of embarrassingly bad CGI blood. I am talking made-for-Sci-Fi-Channel bad. Thankfully it was brief, but even a few cheap seconds can take you out of a movie.
Sick Nurses is like Thailand’s answer to the slasher movie, using popular East Asian ghost stories as a template. However, it lacks the gore of the former, and the scariness of the latter. Excessive silliness and a lack of consistently good horror material hold this film back, but its entertaining nurses and quirky sense of humor make it worth at least a rental.