Nurse Diary: Beast Afternoon, produced by Nikkatsu, is one of the few films they released that chooses to venture into science fiction territory. With the addition of elements of horror and crime, this is one of the more unique films produced by the company.
The film begins with the creation of the “Dream Ring”: a device that, when inserted into someone, can monitor their dreams. However, shortly after the creation of the ring, the inventor becomes brain damaged after a botched suicide attempt. The ring then finds its way into the hands of a hospital director and his wife. They begin to study it, while trying to restore the broken mind of its original creator with the intent of making billions off the invention.
Caught between all of this is college student Reiko, who is suffering from Genophobia (The fear of sexual intercourse). She becomes the test subject for the device and is forced to view her nightmares revolving around her pent up sexuality. Reiko also finds herself the victim of hypnosis by a nurse at the hospital who has her own motives for the successful recovery of the inventor of the ring.
The acting in the film is adequate, but nobody seems to do anything to stand out. Part of this may be that there is no real main character to speak of. Early on, there is the assumption that Reiko will take the lead and become more intricate to the plot, but she soon becomes a pawn to the other characters ,whom, because of some convoluted story telling, incite little interest.
The visuals match up with what fans of Nikkatsu would expect, but the movie is marred by a few odd choices. For example, cutting to a scene where the film is shot upside down is not aesthetically pleasing and sticks out among the otherwise competent cinematography. These poor choices, though, are few and should not be enough to deter the viewer entirely.
“Nurse Diary” has a polarizing effect when it comes to the erotic scenes, which makes it feel like it is at odds with itself. You have the typical standard sex fair but it is the dream sequences that stand out. Combining surreal imagery and a chaotic, unsettling score, creates an interesting juxtaposition, showcasing Reiko’s internal struggle with her own sexuality. One moment we will see her in a state of bliss followed by, for example, being trapped behind bars, being forced to watch a sexual altercation. As a result of under-utilizing these sequences, the rest of the sex scenes feel a bit tedious.
Given the film’s subject matter, it is a unique entry for Nikkatsu productions, which may have lead to them holding back a bit, perhaps lacking some faith in the film. With stronger casting and another director behind the helm, this could have been one of their more memorable productions. Instead, it seems like it is just toying with science fiction and horror, too afraid to fall under either label. But there was certainly room to add more of those elements, particularly within the dream sequences, while still keeping it aimed at their target audience.
Although a bit frustrating at times, given that there are many elements that could have been improved, “Nurse Diary: Beast Afternoon” still has a lot going for it that will draw in audiences who are fans of pink film.