“A hot mess. And de la Huerta is not bad either.”
“My name is Abigail Russell. I look like a slut, but don’t be fooled—this is merely a disguise to lure the dangerous predators who walk among us. This is their jungle, their breeding ground, and tonight I am on the hunt. These are the cheaters, the married, lying scum. They are like diseased cells cultured in alcoholic petri dishes that destroy unsuspecting families and infect millions of innocent vaginas. There is no cure for the married cock—only me, the nurse.”
Even Lionsgate didn’t know what to do with this, the film sitting on the shelf for about two years, before being quickly released without much fanfare. And, to be honest, you can see why, because it’s the kind of lurid, nonsensical trash that gives real cinema a bad name. As such, we naturally adored it. As the introductory monologue above should make clear, Abigail Russell (de la Huerta) is an angel of vengeance, who prowls the streets looking for cheating husbands, luring them in, and then wiping them out. She does so, believing she is saving their families from finding out the terrible truth. In reality, she is a nurse who is nuttier than a Christmas fruitcake, and when the colleague (Bowden) she is supposed to mentoring spurns Abigail’s friendship, in favour of a man, she sets out to destroy the perceived betrayer’s life.
de la Huerta is perfect, combining a body to die for, with a face best described, with my usual literary eloquence as “kinda weird.” Imagine an alien imitating a human being and you’ll be in the right area; that apples to the way she speaks too, which seems – and I’m fairly sure this is entirely deliberate – as if heavily drugged. Combine this off-kilter central performance with some of the ripest dialogue spat out by a character since Joe Eszterhas was in his prime, plus stylistic comic-book depiction by the second-unit director of Resident Evil: Extinction, and you’ll be in the right area as far as knowing what to expect. But it goes above and beyond in just about every area, although this is something of a mixed blessing: the most interesting stuff is Abigail’s predatory lifestyle, which is genuinely unusual and disturbing (for any male, at least; Chris spent much of this section nodding her head in approval!). When it turns into a remake of Single White Female for the middle portion, things becomes over-familiar, and de la Huerta just doesn’t have the same acting chops as Jennifer Jason Leigh. [Not that many actresses do]
Things perk up nicely for a grand guignol finale, which sees Abigail roaming the corridors of the hospital, dispatching anyone who gets in her way, and even some who don’t, with manic abandon. Naturally, as with all good horror, it ends with a set-up for a potential sequel, and it’s one we wouldn’t mind seeing. In a genre where all the icons are male, e.g. Freddy, Jason, Pinhead, etc. Nurse Abigail Russell is potentially the most interesting female candidate for some time. And while I can certainly see why this isn’t for all tastes – indeed, “taste” is about the least applicable word for this – we appreciated its clearly satirical intent and were happy to go along for the ride.
Dir: Doug Aarniokoski
Star: Paz de la Huerta, Katrina Bowden, Corbin Bleu, Boris Kodjoe