12 Hour Shift (2020) Feels as Long as Its Title Suggests
Title: 12 Hour Shift
First Wide Release: October 2, 2020 (Theatrical Release)
Director: Brea Grant
Writer: Brea Grant
Runtime: 86 Minutes
Starring: Angela Bettis, Julianne Dowler, Tom DeTrinis
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
Mandy (Angela Bettis) is a nurse in Arkansas that just wants to do her job and mind her business. While her coworkers try and smooth out her rough personality, she secretly moonlights as an organ harvester under the careful watch of fellow nurse, Karen (Nikea Gamby-Turner). Her dim-witted cousin Regina (Chloe Farnworth) is in on the game too, starting a few weeks ago and is already finding ways of screwing up a very easy transportation gig. After screwing up the delivery of their latest heist, the organ runners that pay the crew for their misdeeds intend to collect, whether the organs come from someone dead or alive. Dodging the curious patients, the bumbling police officers and nosy co-workers, it’s up to Mandy to make things right even while her cousin continues to make matters worse in this horror comedy of errors.
12 Hour Shift splits a few stitches here and there with a charming cast despite its tired concept.
Angela Bettis is the sole reason I decided to check out this film. She is known for her stellar genre work and unique character choices that I assumed 12 Hour Shift would make for some great fun. While Bettis does deliver a strong, and very particular, energy to the role as the no-nonsense Mandy, she can’t save a middling genre film that lacks excitement or cohesion.
Another solid addition to the admittedly solid cast is Chloe Farnworth’s Regina. Farnworth’s sugary-sweet presence adds more chaos into the film, playing up her character’s hair-brained schemes to get herself out of trouble while still holding onto a small shred of likability. Bettis and Farnwoth easily play off of each other’s strengths to make their relationship feel authentically forced, which is perfect for them.
The film never really sticks. It is very heavy on situational comedy, which elicits more eyerolls than laughter. Everything and everyone comes off as annoying, as we see them through Mandy’s eyes. This has the potential to be entertaining but it gets more repetitive as 12 Hour Shift repeats the same cycle of events over and over again. The comedy here kills the pacing leading to an overall flat and less enjoyable experience. It is very dry humor set against the backdrop of a dull and lifeless Arkansas hospital. Most of it transpires through petty arguments and miscommunications from the hapless staff and patients, which may fit in with some viewer’s tastes.
I’d be remiss to ignore the positive aspects of 12 Hour Shift. The staging and camerawork make for some intricate shots that weave in and out of rooms and hallways to mimic the ever-changing energy present in a hospital. From a writing standpoint, I enjoyed the clever situations that writer/director Brea Grant puts Mandy in throughout the film as she navigates saving her distant cousin from organ traffickers in an effort to save her job and freedom. She makes great use of the space and makes the quaint hospital feel larger while remaining intimate. The characters, while irritating, are admittedly memorable and are well-acted by the main cast.
This is the part of the review where I must share that I don’t think I am the target audience here. Humor, much like horror, is deeply subjective and when combined make for a very specific experience unlikely to be universally enjoyed. There is a technical prowess to the acting and staging of 12 Hour Shift that make it a commendable effort, but it isn’t one that is particularly enjoyable to me. While I didn’t enjoy it, Bettis crafts a strong leading performance and a few jokes caught me off guard, so I didn’t exactly hate it either. If a more restrained sense of humor meshes with your style and you enjoy hijinks-oriented horror comedy, 12 Hour Shift might be exactly what the doctor ordered.
Overall Score? 5/10