HomeMovies'12 Hour Shift' Review: An Unconventionally Fun Dark Comedy Heist

’12 Hour Shift’ Review: An Unconventionally Fun Dark Comedy Heist

David Arquette in 12 Hour Shift
Photo Courtesy: Magnet Releasing

Most people aren’t fond of hospitals. That’s a given under normal circumstances—let alone one that’s wrapped up in an organ trafficking ring. That’s the setting writer-director Brea Grant creates in her dark-comedy, 12 Hour Shift, where more than just the patients have to do their best to survive the night. Set in Arkansas just before the potential Y2K crisis, an absurd set of circumstances, and an even more ridiculous cast of characters collide to create a comedy of errors that’s as layered and quirky as it is bloody.

Angela Bettis is no stranger to the horror genre, and she’s terrific in this film as Mandy, a generally tired and annoyed nurse with a harvesting side hustle to fuel her drug addiction. She’s snorting pills to make it through her overnight shift and desperately hoping not to have to deal with exactly the kind of complications that her courier cousin-in-law Regina (Chloe Farnworth) thrusts upon her after a botched exchange of cash for a kidney. Farnworth creates a heinous yet appealing character who, down to her carefully crafted mannerisms, serves as the picture-perfect contrast to Mandy: full of bubbly energy but lacking any critical or moral reasoning. She lacks any level of thinking actually, so,  her involvement creates a level of chaos and mess that may be too big for Mandy to clean up.

Luckily, she has a little help from her supervisor and co-conspirator, Karen (Nikea Gamby-Turner), who is the only one to get a smile from Mandy, and offers levity in the majority of her scenes. Gamby-Turner turns in a performance that makes you want to be her friend despite the whole organ-for-profit pitfall.

As Mandy scrambles to fix everything Regina breaks, she’s also searching for a replacement kidney and has a host of potential candidates, but they each come with their own set of complications, most notably Jefferson (David Arquette), a cop killer on death row is admitted after a suicide attempt. Once the leader of the organ trafficking ring (Mick Foley) dispatches his henchman Mikey (Dusty Warren) to deal with Regina, she only becomes further unhinged and multiple problems come crashing down all at once.

The film, also starring Kit Williamson, Tara Perry and Brooke Seguin among others, gets very strong performances from the entire cast. All of the secondary characters are deeply rooted into the sort of “bless your heart” innocence that you would expect for a small Arkansas town, and they all exhibit their own flaws, adding to their authenticity despite their eccentricities.

The depressing yellow appearance of the real hospital, that the independent production used to film, the eclectic mix of rock, gospel, and classic horror violins that makes up Matt Glass’s score, and the cleverly awkward dialogue come together to create a world where a plot this disturbing can not only take place, but also have its audience buy in and root for its appalling cast of characters. Being able to include spontaneous song and dance numbers to cut some of the anxiety, and not having them seem entirely out of place, just confirms that what you’re doing is working.

Perhaps the best compliment that can be paid to 12 Hour Shift is that it successfully stretches the limits of each genre it dips its toes in. Often moving from sad and disturbing drama, to laugh out loud funny within the same conversation before violence wins out again. Enough thought was given to its plot and tone to give its incredible cast the freedom to be understated or over the top without losing credibility. It feels like the Coen brothers decided they wanted to work with the Devil’s Rejects crew, and if the twisted heist film is Brea Grant’s love letter to the South, she pulled it off.

12 Hour Shift is available on VOD October 2.

Ben Murchison
Ben Murchison
Ben Murchison is a regular contributor for TV and Movies. He’s that guy that spends an hour in an IMDb black hole of research about every film and show he watches. Strongly believes Buffy the Vampire Slayer to be the best show to ever exist, and that Peaky Blinders needs more than 6 episodes per series. East Carolina grad, follow on Twitter and IG @bdmurchison.


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