12 Hour Shift
2020, NR, 86 min. Directed by Brea Grant. Starring Angela Bettis, Chloe Farnworth, Nikea Gamby-Turner, David Arquette, Kit Williamson, Mick Foley, Tara Perry.
REVIEWED By Josh Kupecki, Fri., Oct. 2, 2020
One of the most noble and selfless vocations, nurse practitioners must juggle the endless care of patients with the demands of doctors and hospital bureaucrats. And if you're Mandy (Bettis), working the titular schedule, add in a substance abuse problem and a black market organ harvesting racket. When she’s not half-heartedly doing her rounds, she’s assessing various patients to kill in order to extract body parts for local mobster Nicholas (Foley). Assisting her in this endeavor is Regina (Farnworth), her ne’er-do-well white trash cousin (through marriage!), as well as co-worker and cohort Karen (Gamby-Turner). When courier Regina misplaces the kidney she is to deliver, another one must be procured, and events begin to spiral into chaos.
This brisk black comedy from writer/director Brea Grant (see "Modern Scream Queen," Sept. 25, for interview) introduces a number of further complications into Mandy’s already hectic schedule of murder and pharmaceutical intake. There’s death row patient Jefferson (a game Arquette) on the loose, an overzealous police officer (Williamson, channeling Barney Fife) snooping around, and the various patients both dead and alive that need seeing to. When Regina takes it upon herself to find an unwilling kidney donor, the bodies begin piling up at an alarming rate. But for all the elaborate plates that Grant keeps spinning, the filmmaker still has time for an impromptu singalong to “Are You Washed in the Blood?”
Bettis is perfectly cast as Mandy, her hazy disaffection to the increasingly bloody mayhem she has to deal with is best described as nonplussed irritation. Other performances are hit and miss, but Grant keeps the pace quick and as the narrative careens to its third act convergence, it’s quite easy to ignore some of the more blatant improbabilities and just enjoy watching how all the dominoes fall. 12 Hour Shift reinforces what anyone who’s had any experience with health care acutely understands: You don’t fuck with nurses.
12 Hour Shift is available on VOD now. Read our interview with director (and UT grad) Brea Grant, "Modern Scream Queen," Sept. 25.