Look, yes, something something judging DVDs by their covers and all that--but how can we not let our expectations fly when we settle down to watch a movie released in 2007 (prime dude bro era) with a title like Sick Nurses ("Whoa, sick nurses, bro!") and cover art like this?
Does it not scream "sexy and extreeeeeme!!"? And I suppose that ultimately, Sick Nurses is, in fact, sexy and extreme, but not at all in the ways your expectations have you...expecting. In other words, you might think you're going to get Hostel with hot nurses, but instead you get a fun, inventive supernatural slasher flick. With hot nurses.
If you thought Halloween II's Haddonfield Memorial wasn't quite believable as a hospital, then wait until you get a load of this rundown place on the outskirts of Bangkok! No patients at all. Hallways and rooms lit up like a low-budget Argento flick. Full-on decorated apartments inside. It's great! And it's a good example of the way to approach Sick Nurses: watching it is kind of like being a passenger on the bus from Speed. Sure, you can complain about your situation and all the ways it doesn't really make complete sense. Or you can just go with the flow, sit back, and enjoy the fast-paced ride, which is really quite thrilling.
Anyway, at this shady hospital, Dr Taa (Wichan Jarujinda) and his cadre of hot nurses are running a black market scheme and selling dead bodies. When Dr Taa's girlfriend Tawan (Chon Wachanano) discovers that he's having an affair with her sister Nook (Chidjan Rujiphun), she threatens to expose all the sinister shenanigans. The sick nurses strike, killing Tawan. She's tossed in the trunk of Dr Taa's car (on ice, natch, so she doesn't spoil), but there's a hold up with the dead body buyer. Seven days later, she's still there, and her ghost returns for some good old fashioned revenge.
While it's your typical setup for an Asian ghost story, Sick Nurses wildly diverges from the standard path in its approach. (But don't worry, copious amounts of hair still figure into the proceedings!) The film is much closer to A Nightmare on Elm Street than it is to Thailand's most famous horror export, 2004's Shutter.
Each of the nurses has her own...mmm, let's call them foibles, shall we? One is addicted to exercise, another is obsessed with luxury items. The twins are obsessed with each other in a vaguely lesbian way, but it's really just narcissism. Ultimately these foibles are used against the women, and they all suffer ironic, gruesome deaths. But make no mistake: while the blood certainly flows, Sick Nurses is as goofy as it is wild and the overall tone is light. A preserved baby flies out of a jar of formaldehyde, a woman stabs her way through a crowd with a pregnancy test--again, it's great! And Tawan is there, smirking and relaxing as the women are dispatched in clever ways.
Despite the carnival funhouse vibe that leads up to one of the most completely bonkers endings since that in Pieces (1982), there is a real tragedy at the core of all of this that may tug on a heartstring or two, should you have any.
It's interesting to see how Thailand's overbearing film censorship plays out: women getting hacked up is fine, but these same women must shower fully clothed.
One person voted Sick Nurses a favorite back in 2020, and I'm glad they did. Thai horror is woefully neglected and underseen compared to its more famous Japanese and Korean counterparts, and this movie in particular is one that deserves a wider audience...especially amongst those who have expectations about what an "Asian horror movie" could or might be.
Or those who have expectations about what a sexy and extreeeeme horror movie could or might be. Not me, of course.