Written and directed by Piraphan Laoyont and Thodsapol Siriwiwat, Sick Nurses is an atypical Thai horror film. No nudity, poor special effects and a languid almost sleepy pace.
The film takes place in a deserted hospital that is manned by what appears to be a skeleton crew, while the rest of the staff are attending an award ceremony. The skeleton crew consists of six nurses and a doctor. While he goes to the award ceremony, the nurses start getting killed by a dark ghostly woman.
At the start of the film, we are helpfully told that seven days after someone dies they will return to their loved one. While the six nurses interact with one another, we get flashbacks to seven days previously when another nurse Tahwaan (Chon Wachananon) is murdered by all of them. She was “engaged” to Dr Taa (Wichan Jarujinda) who decided he liked her younger sister Nook (Chidjan Rujiphun) much more. So much more, in fact, that he has gotten Nook pregnant.
Tahwaan is, understandably, upset. She threatens to tell the police about Dr Taa and the six nurses’ sideline of selling dead bodies. Once this threat leaves her lips, the nurses grab her and force her onto an operating table. With Tahwaan struggling and fighting for her life, one of the women gives her an injection and another stabs her.
Now that Tahwaan is dead, Dr Taa sells her body, only to be told that the client cannot take delivery for seven days. Wrapping the body in a black plastic bag and putting it in the boot (trunk) of his car with dry ice, Taa plans on dropping the body off after the award ceremony. Meanwhile, the remaining nurses get separated and killed by the vengeful spirit of Tahwaan.
This film, if it had gotten a bigger budget and been filmed in Japan versus Thailand, might just have been scary as hell. As it is, it falls into the “so bad it’s good” category of so many other low-budget horror films. Due to the restrictions placed on Thai actresses concerning nudity, one nurse, and the doctor in an earlier scene, takes a shower with her clothes on. The incongruity of showering in gym shorts, a bra and a t-shirt is never explained and makes no real sense.
There are other “touches” in the film that are just as puzzling and funny. Younger sister Nook goes to the toilet to use a pregnancy test. When she urinates on the tester, it changes instantaneously to show the result. The scene then becomes even funnier when she goes to put the used tester back in her purse and it is full of testers. She must have twenty or thirty of the things in her bag.
Nook, again, is cornered on a stairwell by nurses who have no face, just hair (with a bun, yet) and they attack her. She battles these faceless nurses (there appear to be 50 or more) with a pregnancy tester, which appears to help her win against these outlandish odds. Most of the funnier scenes seemed to deal with Nook, although, the other nurses had their fair share of silly moments.
I watched this film quite a few years ago and stupidly traded it in for another film. Sick Nurses is almost sophomoric in its attempts to scare the audience, but it is these very amateurish attempts that make the film so enjoyable. The title of the film seems to refer to the foibles of the nurses themselves.
Tahwaan has a secret, two of the nurses Am and Orn are narcissistic and only have eyes for each other (they are twins), another nurse is Anorexic, another is Bulimic, yet another is obsessed with jewellery and expensive items; and Nook is promiscuous enough to steal Dr Taa from her big sister. They all have some sort of “sickness;” hence the title Sick Nurses.
Once Tahwaan comes back as a dark (greenish?) vengeful spirit, the film relies on the old Asian axiom of long hair over the face and an OBE *In case you are interested OBE stands for One-Big-Eye.* to create fear.
When the girls are being controlled by Tahwaan, their body parts become dark green and work against them or each other as in the case with the twins. There is a plot twist at the end of the film that is shown via Dr Taa’s flashbacks. But the twist is not blazingly original. In fact it is the same plot twist used in the 2004 Thai film Shutter.
It appears that this particular theme is something that weighs on the average Thai citizen or is perhaps a very serious taboo. I can’t tell you what the twist is, but if you are familiar with the film, Shutter you will know.
In some instances, Sick Nurses almost appears to be intended to be a black comedy/horror. But some of the unintentional laughs (like those inspired by some really dodgy CGI) make it obvious that comedy/horror was not the directors’ or the producer’s aim.
Still, it is a fun film to watch and the simultaneous timeline of the plot works well enough for the viewer to admire the directors intent if not their final product.
My final verdict is that this is an interesting film to watch and if you have seen earlier Thai horror films you can see the improvement that they’ve made with the genre. Certainly not as good or clever as Shutter or 4bia (Phobia) it is nonetheless better than The Ghost of Mae Nak, or some of their earlier efforts.
Whatever these nurses are suffering from there are no pills for their ills and the film is definitely worth a look and a giggle.
- Kill List (2011): Keeping Death in the Family (mikesfilmtalk.com)
- Horror Films 101: “When love goes terribly wrong” moments in horror cinema. (jenniferlinton.com)
- ‘I Think I’ve Just Been a Bit Sick in My Mouth’. Sinister – The Review (thepopcorngirls.com)