The Taiwanese horror Film Sick Nurses is pretty straightforward. A doctor and several nurses are selling body parts on the black market. One of the nurses threatens to rat them out and they kill her. But the story is not over, because her spirit comes back to haunt them. And kill them.
The story jumps in quickly, introducing the nurses in rapid succession. It’s kind of confusing, as we just get brief glimpses of the characters to set them apart. Two of the girls are obsessed with telling each other how cute the other is. And they do it via cell phone while sitting face to face. One is an exercise freak, another has an eating disorder, one obsessed with pretty things she cannot afford and one certain the doctor will marry her (who is pregnant). And one I cannot remember. I just watched the movie and I cannot remember her. Good sign, huh?
The title is a dual meaning, really. On the one hand, the Sick Nurses are suffering from disorders, and they are all murderers.
It is also hard to determine where they are. While it looks like a hospital, with a cafeteria and various operating rooms and so on? They also have what look like fully furnished apartments. In the same building. Maybe it is a medical training school?
So, as the night progresses, the girls are systematically tortured and killed by the spirit. It goes for the “WTF Factor” a lot. For instance, the girl with the eating disorder is forced to eat razor blades that somehow results in her lower and tongue falling off-and then a dead monster fetus leaps from a jar and suffocates her. And then there the girl who showers with her clothes on. That was really weird.
But the spirit gorily takes out each nurse, until it is down to the pregnant girl. The doctor is on his way to see her, as apparently, they aer planning to marry. It is slowly revealed that there was something between the nurse that was murdered and the doctor-we see many flashbacks where she whispers to him to marry her. But the other nurses bully her, mocking that the doctor would never marry her. Towards the end, it is reveal just why this was, in fact, truthful. While the doctor appears to have liaisons with all the other nurses, he was unwilling to extend hand to her.
The reveal of why the spirit and the doctor’s relationship could never be is interesting and re-frames the entire story in terms of gender identity, relationships and so on.
This is not, of course, to say it is a great film, like, say, Let the Right One In. It in many ways feels like just another Asian horror film. Gore, an obsession with long hair, a vengeful spirit, weird imagery, technology being scary, wide eyed ghosts, everything color treated in a dull, greenish hue… it does not represent the most original of Asian cinema, but rather like the countless slasher knockoffs of the late 70-80 or that came in the 90’s after Scream.