Amy Loughren (Jessica Chastain) is a deeply empathetic but overwhelmed nurse struggling to balance the demands of her job with raising two daughters as a single mother. She’s burning the candle at both ends, and it certainly doesn’t help matters when some of her patients, seemingly on the road to recovery, suddenly die while at the hospital. With all of this going on, she’ is relieved when she develops a rapport with Charles Cullen (Eddie Redmayne), the new nurse on the unit. He seems warm, kind, and eager to be helpful, and it isn’t long before their friendship extends outside of working hours. When she needs an extra pair of hands with her kids, he’s her first call — from practicing for an elementary school theatrical audition to helping with dinner, Charles seems like the perfect friend. They have an easy chemistry together that helps us buy into their relationship almost immediately.
All the while, the police are investigating the strange deaths at the hospital, first as a matter of routine, but then out of genuine curiosity. Something isn’t adding up: Why would multiple people, by all accounts not in any serious danger, up and die for no reason? The hospital proves to be spectacularly unhelpful in their investigation — they are resentful of the implication of potential wrongdoing and eager to throw up any roadblocks between them and a lawsuit. People just die sometimes, they say. It is a hospital, after all. Also, it’s routine for all of our records to be purged on a regular basis; nothing to see here. But despite the hospital’s best efforts to run interference with the police department, the detectives in charge of the case (played by Nnamdi Asomugha and Noah Emmerich) begin to suspect that these are more than just run-of-the-mill hospital deaths — they’re murder.