“Sick Nurses” – A.J. Hakari

A ghastly crime. A looming edifice. A long-haired ghost out for some serious revenge. This has served as the set-up to more Asian horror films than there are stars in the sky, but in the right hands, it can be molded into quite the effective premise. Thailand’s Sick Nurses gave every indication that it would breathe lurid originality into a genre that’s become overstuffed with increasingly derivative product. It seemed like it would do just the trick in relieving viewers from sitting through another godawful ghost story, but alas, this sloppy and ineffective thriller manages to pack in a whole lot of disappointment in a very short amount of time.

Taking a cue from the urban legend about the bathtub full of ice and the missing kidney, Sick Nurses centers on young Dr. Tar (Wichan Jarujinda) and the posse of drop-dead gorgeous nurses at his disposal. In addition to helping the sick, Dr. Tar and his staff engage in another business after hours: selling the organs of dead patients on the black market. This secret trade has worked out pretty well so far, until lovely nurse Tahwaan (Chon Wachananon) decides to spill the beans on their illegal activities. Not wanting to give up their lucrative scheme, Dr. Tar and the other nurses swiftly slay poor Tahwaan and set about carving her up next. But seven days after they do the dirty deed, the staff comes under attack one by one by a supernatural force. You guessed it, Tahwaan is back from beyond the grave, and her angry spirit refuses to settle until she wreaks vengeance on each and every one of her killers.

It’s hard to take a story as simple as “ghost kills people” and screw it up on such a royal level, but Sick Nurses does it. It’s even more of a letdown considering how much the flick hooked me at the start. The film’s opening scenes are indeed tantalizing; introducing viewers to its world of beauties and bloodshed, you’d think Sick Nurses got cut out of the final print of Grindhouse. It seemed to possess a sense of self-awareness, assuring audiences that no matter how silly the movie would become, it’d all be tongue-in-cheek and in the name of having a grand ol’ time. Unfortunately, this lasted for all of maybe five minutes, as the story soon started copping a serious attitude and fell apart quickly thereafter. Instead of laughing with the movie, you end up laughing at it, for the further Sick Nurses trudges along, the more it becomes mired in a web of goofy scares and tactless storytelling from which, in the end, there is no escape.

Horror movies (or at least those dedicated to bringing you more blood for your buck) have never been that big on characterizations, but Sick Nurses takes things to a whole new level of complacency. Remember those beautiful nurses I was talking about earlier? Oh, they’re very easy on the eyes, but don’t expect to give a flying rat’s ass about what happens to any of them. I’m pretty sure two or three weren’t even given names, serving only as fodder for Tahwaan’s otherworldly fury. It wouldn’t be so bad if the death scenes were gruesome enough to pick up the slack, but instead of reeling in shock, Sick Nurses will have you rolling in laughter. Aside from a grisly bit involving a nurse forced to swallow razor blades, the kills are a joke (just wait for the nurse wrapped in a cocoon of hair). There’s a plot device that has all of the deaths taking place at the same time, which would’ve been kind of cool had the movie done something with it, and while the twist that caps the film off is unexpected, it’s a pretty thin excuse to give the audience a last-minute jolt.

Sick Nurses is the type of movie whose badness almost has to be seen to be believed. You just can’t describe what a downright mess the movie looks like, from the monotonous pace and paper-thin characters to a plot that becomes too goofy for its own good. Some movies are so bad, they’re almost enjoyable, but Sick Nurses is one of the most howlingly awful ditties I’ve seen in a long time.

Rating: ★☆☆☆

-A.J. Hakari

Read more of A.J.’s reviews at ReelTalk Movie Reviews, Classic Movie Guide, and Terror Tube.

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