Film Review – 12 Hour Shift
12 Hour Shift
12 Hour Shift is challenging to put into one genre; it flows between a dark comedy, horror/slasher, and workplace drama (is that a genre?). Written and directed by Brea Grant, it follows Mandy (Angela Bettis) as she settles into her long shift as a nurse in a rural hospital in 1999, Arkansas. Ecstatic and excited are nowhere near appropriate descriptors for what Mandy thinks about her job. It’s a job, and that’s about it. Unfortunately, she is supposed to actually care for sick patients, and therein is the issue with Mandy. It appears she has been a nurse for far too long and has lost anymore s**ts to give about what happens to many of those in her care.
To help supplement her pay, Mandy and another nurse, Karen (Nikea Gamby-Turner), have created some sort of black-market deal involving organs from dead people. It seems there is not much to do in this area of Arkansas, but there is a gang of ruffians dealing in organs. Regina (Chloe Farnworth) is Mandy’s cousin by marriage and has somehow been chosen to be the middle-man between the hospital and the organ gang. With her platinum blonde hair, platforms, and midriff-bearing shirt (this is 1999), she transports (in the loosest meaning of the word possible) that cooler of organs to the gang, led by a burly guy named Nicholas (none other than wrestler Mick Foley). This whole operation leads to a myriad of questions, chief among them is who is buying non-viable organs, but I digress. The act that sets this story in motion is Regina losing said organ and Nicholas threatening to kill her if she doesn’t find another.
The great organ escapade and the many colorful and not very bright characters of this hospital make up the bulk of the storyline for 12 Hour Shift. While the setting proves interesting and a hospital means there will be blood, it is a tough sell on the horror genre. Just because there are blood and body parts doesn’t mean that it’s scary. It’s horror light and leaning more towards using it as a gag of sorts for some scenes. The scene that sticks out the most is the cut between Regina and Mandy digging into different dead bodies with blood spurting on their faces, juxtaposing each other.
To add to the film’s horror bits, a prisoner is transported to the hospital and manages to escape his restraints and kill his security escort. Jefferson (David Arquette) may run around with a knife and present a danger to those in lockdown at the hospital, but it didn’t really carry over to the audience. It’s not a meaty role for Arquette either.
While it waivers with what kind of film it wants to be, 12 Hour Shift also struggles with how scenes flowed. The acting sometimes felt stifled and stunted, possibly due to problems with the script or how the actors fed off or interacted with each other. Some beats of silence felt too long and not on purpose. The humor sometimes saves it, especially with Mr. Kent (Tom DeTrinis). Angela Bettis’ Mandy excels at being nonchalant with her patients throughout the film, even with the added stressor of procuring extra, last-minute organs. Mandy is the epitome of over-worked and under-paid, and Bettis excelled at oozing this for the whole film.
I wanted to love 12 Hour Shift (even giving it a second viewing), but it fell flat. It lacked enthusiasm for its story but came out hitting 100 percent with its fascinating, quizzical characters. This indie film felt like it may have needed just a little more love thrown at it for it.