Magnolia Pictures // 2007 // 82 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Judge Paul Pritchard (Retired) // May 2nd, 2008
Take A Deep Breath, This Is Going To Hurt.
"Did you know that the dead always return to the one they love on the seventh day?"
From the depths of the largely unpopulated hospital where they work, seven nurses, accompanied by a well-respected doctor, are running a small, yet apparently profitable business on the side: harvesting dead bodies and selling the parts on the black market.
All is going well for our plucky group until jealousy rears its ugly head after the doctor's infidelity with one of the nurses is exposed, causing the other nurses to kill one of their own.
Normally that would be the end of the matter, but as one of the nurses conveniently mentions, the dead seem to have a habit of returning seven days later to those they loved, which probably isn't something you'd want if you're the people responsible for their death.
With only minutes to go until midnight on the seventh day, the remaining nurses assume themselves to be safe, but then strange things start to happen, ghostly apparitions begin to appear and before long the body count begins to rise.
Bizarre is about as good a word as any to sum up Sick Nurses, the film that just might put Thailand on the horror movie map. From its distinctive structure to its inventive kills, whether you end up enjoying the film or not, there's no getting away from the fact you won't see many films quite like this. A film that seems to revel in its B-movie status, Sick Nurses is a short, sharp blast of splatter-filled horror held loosely together by the pure enthusiasm of its Directors Piraphan Laoyont and Thodsapol Siriwiwat.
Running at a mere 82 minutes, what we have here, if we're being honest, is really only an excuse to parade a bevy of attractive young ladies around in tight nurses uniforms before slaying them in a succession of increasingly gruesome ways. When they're not being slaughtered, these girls like nothing more than to shower, get touchy feely with each other and fool around with the head doctor who, it appears, is more than willing to give them more than just his time. Yet despite its initially simple plot, Sick Nurses does contain a little innovation and certainly has a unique feel.
The main events of the film take place within the 10-minute period before the clock strikes midnight. Having been brutally murdered by her colleagues, Tawan returns from beyond the grave seven days after her murder to exact a grisly revenge on her killers. Fleshing out the story with a series of flashbacks that inform us of the events that led directly to Tawan's murder, as well as the differing personalities of the nurses (crucially revealing their weaknesses), Sick Nurses spends the first half of its running time merely hinting at what is to come, cleverly getting each of its characters into position for the final 40-minute gore-fest which, when it comes, sure is a sight to behold.
From limbs being hacked off to decapitations, there is enough variety to keep gorehounds happy. Yet not content to simply splash claret across the screen, Sick Nurses goes a step further than most with some of the more surprising and occasionally shocking deaths ever witnessed onscreen. Put it this way, having seen a nurse lose her jaw, her tongue flapping around like a piece of ham caught in a strong wind, you'd think the scene would be over, her suffering complete. But no, Sick Nurses, being totally nuts, decides to keep things going and, well, you'll just have to see for yourself.
Despite a clean 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer with a serviceable soundtrack, the disc is left a little wanting when you realize you only get a 6-minute "making of" as a special feature.
The opening 40 minutes occasionally drags; there's no getting away from it. What's worse, the film seems to play with your expectations. Those hoping for a nonstop bloodbath from beginning to end are going to be sorely disappointed as Sick Nurses refuses to rush to the good stuff, instead only suggesting what's to come. Though there are the occasional sudden bursts of violence in the first half, it's never very much and, I'm sure, will leave some deflated.
Though I found the film's structure to be quite novel, with the main events occurring over a 10-minute period, the rest mostly being taken up by flashbacks, there is one serious flaw: flashbacks are fine, but flashbacks within flashbacks are not so good. Though never likely to cause confusion as to what's going on, it nonetheless proves to be a little annoying.
Finally, despite having to wait over 40 minutes or so for the action to let rip, when it does come it comes fairly hard. I've seen worse, a lot worse, but while the film doesn't have the nastiness of some of Lucio Fulci's work or even more recent mainstream efforts such as Hostel: Part 2, it does contain a few scenes that some will find repulsive. Of course, those people are unlikely to pick up a film called Sick Nurses. Still, this is not a film where plot and characters are the main focus, it sets out purely to thrill those with a love of the macabre; in that, it succeeds.
Utilizing the longhaired ghostly figure that has become a staple of modern horror since Ringu, Sick Nurses, at least at the outset, appears to be a run-of-the-mill horror movie. Dig a little deeper, however, and the film reveals a twisted sense of humor and uninhibited imagination.
A slow first half and an admittedly cheesy tone nearly proves fatal for Sick Nurses, yet for those blessed with a little patience the rewards are plentiful. A gloriously over-the-top second half, full of striking imagery and almost nonstop carnage, complemented by a surprise final revelation, sees Sick Nurses ready to take on cult status and Thailand as a potential new challenger to Korea and Japan for Asian horror.
Not guilty. Give it a Thai.
Review content copyright © 2008 Paul Pritchard; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Magnolia Pictures
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Thai)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Thai)
Running Time: 82 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Unrated
* The Making of Sick Nurses