MAY 23, 2008
If there’s one thing you don’t often see in Asian horror films, it’s the characters goofing off with one another. Everyone’s ususally so dour and serious, so it was almost strange to see a few of the titular Sick Nurses (aka Suay Laak Sai) do things like, well, smile. They tease one another, make faces, etc... just like regular girls! Of course, it’s not long before they are all crying and being terrorized by long black hair (it IS an Asian horror film, after all), but while it lasted, it was definitely appreciated.
One “back to back” movie coincidence I never thought I’d encounter is “Lazy subtitles”, but that is exactly what I got on Nurses, much like yesterday’s Frontière(s). It wasn’t nearly as bad; basically, they just didn’t bother with the titles that (I assume) denoted the time in which the scene took place (like “yesterday” or whatever). But since the movie was told with a lot of flashbacks, it got a bit more confusing than it would have been had the subtitler just paid the fuck attention.
On the subject of language, I should note that there is actually an English dub on the disc, something that is increasingly rare, especially with Asian films. Not that I have any use for it, but if you are the type who doesn’t like to read your horror movies, you can still feel free to check this one out! However, you run the risk of missing out on one of the film’s best small pleasures. Two of the girls are named Ae and Am. When pronounced by the real actresses, they sound like “Eh?” and “Um.” So you have scenes of a girl going “Eh? Eh? Eh?”. Definitely a chuckler.
The plot is fairly straightforward – a girl who was wrongly killed comes back to seek revenge. Nothing new. But director/writers Thospol Sirivivat and Piraphan Laoyont bring out the originality when it comes to the execution. Rather than the usual stuff, the ghost actually possesses the girls one by one and has them kill themselves or one another. They also toss in some Italian style non-logic; one girl is killed when another one removes the simple stitching that is keeping her head attached. She’s perfectly fine, but then the stitching comes out, and the head just falls off. Uh, bones and veins? And in the movie’s best kill, a girl devours a fistful of razor blades, which results in her jaw being completely severed. Awesome, but then one of those jar-based fetuses flies out of its bottle and lodges itself in what’s left of her mouth. Huh?
There’s also a transvestite.
It seems at time that the film is showing us someone’s imagination, or perhaps even just an exaggeration of something that occurred. The amount of blood would certainly suggest as much. Granted, it’s hardly a very serious film, but the kill scenes don’t seem to be played for laughs either. How else would one explain a scene where a group of hospital personnel sing a song about compassion while they are being drenched with blood? A little more clarification would have been appreciated, especially since the film is abnormally short (82 minutes) for an Asian film. These things always clock in at 100 or so.
The DVD has a very brief making of that is mainly just a few of the girls talking about their roles. Entirely skippable, except for when the girl involved in the aforementioned jaw scene says “When I eat the baby...”. It’s the only extra, but since distributor Magnolia gave us a wealth of stuff on The Host, it’s easily forgivable.
Anyway, I liked it. It was short, fun, and far gorier than most Eastern fare about vengeful ghosts. The fragmented storytelling isn’t without a few problems (without spoiling anything, there is a seemingly huge plot hole regarding the transvestite character), but for the most part it works. And bonus – the ghost never once uses entertainment technology to kill someone.
What say you?