DIRECTED BY: Brea Grant
STARRING: Angela Bettis, David Arquette, Chloe Farnworth, Mick Foley, Kit Williamson, Nikea Gamby-Turner, Tara Perry, Brooke Seguin, Dusty Warren, Tom DeTrinis, Thomas Hobson, Julianne Dowler, Briana Lane, Taylor Alden and Scott Dean
Bodies start to pile up when a drug-user nurse and her cousin try to find a replacement kidney for an organ trafficker.
Set in a small hospital in Arkansas, 1999, junkie nurse Mandy makes extra money selling organs of dying patients whose demise she speeds along. But, when her cousin Regina misplaces a kidney, which local gangster Nick was going to buy, Mandy finds herself having to acquire a fresh one during a 12-hour shift. Chaos descends when Regina insists on helping in lethal ways and a wounded murderer breaks loose.
12 Hour Shift is a dark-comedic horror film written and directed by Brea Grant. The film transports us to 1999 in Arkansas, where we find nurse Mandy having a smoke outside the hospital before she begins her shift. Upon beginning her shift, we learn that not only does Mandy have a drug addiction, but she also makes extra money on the side by harvesting patients organs for a local organ-trafficking ring. When Mandy has a kidney and has her ‘cousin’, Regina transport it to trafficker Nicholas, which she accidentally leaves behind at the hospital, leaving her and Mandy having to obtain another kidney during her 12 hour shift as the hospital soon descends into chaos as the night goes on.
The film has gained some recognition on the festival circuit before its digital release this week, with the film earning the Cheval Noir award for Best Screenplay at Fantasia Film Festival last year. The film has an interesting premise to it, focusing on an ‘Angel of Death’-type of nurse that seems to genuinely care for her patients, while at the same time eyeing up those that are near their end and giving them an extra ‘push forward’ on their date with their maker, as it were, in order to confiscate their organs. The film spends a good portion of its one hour and twenty-six hour runtime in setting up the characters and how the organ trafficking ring operates, from Mandy obtaining the organs, her cousin Regina collecting and taking the organs to trafficker Nicholas and we, as the audience, also see before the exchange between Mandy and Regina is screwed up while the two are oblivious to it. There is a good bit of dark humour showcased here, one sequence in particular stood out for me is when Mandy is cutting open a patient to get an organ while Regina straight-up murdering someone in order to take an organ to the sound of ‘Washed In The Blood Of The Lamb’ is so deliciously tongue-in-cheek and in-keeping with the tone of the film that I couldn’t help but love it.
While there is some well written moments in the film, primarily focused on Mandy and having to deal with where she finds herself now, in the workplace and mentally, overall the film just didn’t really connect for me. It seems to take too long to get to where it’s going in the final act and when we get there, it just felt a little too cartoonish for my tastes in how the story was resolved..until a really good end credits sequence. Chloe Farnworth’s as Regina, in relation to the character as a whole and what she does as a whole, felt over-the-top in how she switches from ditzy to psychopath over the course of the film, even though Farnworth absolutely commits to the role. Angela Bettis gives a compelling performance as a mentally worn-down nurse that’s doing whatever she can to get by, and there’s a particular sub-plot between her and a patient recently brought into the hospital that offers the film its most solemn moments. Unfortunately if you can com expecting a lot of David Arquette, then you’re be severely disappointed with his use of screentime and character in general that doesn’t really appear to serve a purpose other than to go against what’s expected of the kind of character he’s playing.
12 Hour Shift certainly has the ingredients to receive a cult following, with dark comedy sprinkled with horror elements and a compelling performance from Angela Bettis, but it just wasn’t to my tastes.