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K-drama ● Review: The School Nurse Files

English Title: The School Nurse Files

Korean Title: 보건교사 안은영 [lit. School Nurse Ahn Eun-young]

Director(s): Lee Kyung-mi

Screenwriter(s): Chung Se-rang

Studio: KeyEast, Oh!Boy Project

Released: 2020

Runtime: 6 episodes, 45m–57m

Starring: Jung Yu-mi, Nam Joo-hyuk, Yoo Teo


My Verdict: Moderately intriguing but unfocused. Offbeat but lacks comedy. Not bad but can be better executed.


The School Nurse Files

The School Nurse Files is based on the award-winning novel of the same name by Chung Se-rang who is also the screenwriter. Please note that I have not read the novel so the review is purely of the series.


● Ahn Eun-young (Jung Yu-mi) is a school nurse. She is able to see supernatural force or energy in the form of “jellies” that attach themselves to the students. She can eliminate these jellies by using her toy sword. The door to the school basement is also locked as it is forbidden for anyone to enter. Hong In-pyo (Nam Joo-hyuk) is a teacher who has a forcefield that protects him from the jellies.


● The premise is similar to what is commonly found in supernatural horror novels: a mysterious malevolent force that dwells on campus which the main character has to deal with.


Ahn Eun-young (Jung Yu-mi)
Ahn Eun-young (Jung Yu-mi)
Hong In-pyo (Nam Joo-hyuk)
Hong In-pyo (Nam Joo-hyuk)

● Given that the origins and intent of the on-campus force are a mystery, the series is moderately intriguing. In terms of storytelling, this is partly told or expressed through the basement that is off-limits. It is a stereotypical device but it works well enough.


● Having some force, although seen by the main character (and the audience), as the primary adversarial party in the conflict can come across as insufficient but the writer has fittingly included a fellow teacher who acts as the antagonist. In other words, the conflict is not too vague or impersonal.


● It is a little offbeat with merely one or two moments of black comedy. Overall, comedy is sorely lacking, whatever the type.


● Visually, it has a mix of light and dark and is also somewhat colorful. It is shot and edited nicely enough. There is the use of wide shots with the object off-center to convey a sense of detachment and/or discomfort but it can be more stylized to fit its offbeat and surreal nature.


● The performances are solid. The delivery is not deadpan but it does have a deliberately odd calmness to it that contributes to the overall surreal tone. The overall tone is far from David Lynch but maybe would be better if it adopts his approach.


● Given the English title is an obvious homage to The X-Files, one expects a little more intrigue. At 6 episodes, each no longer than one hour long, it is a short series.


● However, given that there is merely one problem as part of the conflict, the structure can be a bit tighter with more exposition regarding the nature of what is going on. I suspect the writer and/or director is trying to keep it mysterious but there has to be more of exposition to satisfy the audience. As such, it comes across as a little unfocused. It’s not a bad series but can be better executed.

 

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