12-Hour Shift Movie Review
Written by Stuart D. Monroe
Released by Magnet Releasing
Written and directed by Brea Grant
2020, 88 minutes, Not Rated
Released on October 2nd, 2020
Angela Bettis as Mandy
Chloe Farnworth as Regina
Nikea Gamby-Turner as Karen
David Arquette as Jefferson
Mick Foley as Nicholas
Kit Williamson as Officer Myers
Tara Perry as Dorothy
Brooke Seguin as Janet
“The sad thing about dyin' is the minutes really slow down. You forgot to appreciate all those other minutes, now all you got is shitty ones.”
It’s not exactly the moral of the story in 12-Hour Shift, but it’s close enough. From the opening scene, you know that you’re dealing with a junkie who’s up to some seriously awful shit with her dimwitted (and morally bankrupt) cousin involving organ trafficking to the black market. That’s a heavy place to start from, but it’s clear that writer-director Brea Grant (Dead Night, Dexter) has a course laid out for a film that moves with fairly deft ease between comedy and horror thanks to a pretty diverse group of actors and the People’s Champ of Horror, Angela Bettis (May, The Woman).
Mandy (Angela Bettis) is working a double at the hospital. She’s tired, cynical, and crooked. She’s also a junkie running a scam with her coworker, Karen (Nikea Gamby-Turner; Rosewood), selling organs of the recently deceased to a black marketeer named Nicholas (WWE legend Mick Foley). The catch? The go-between is her shockingly idiotic (and surprisingly psychotic) cousin, Regina (Chloe Farnworth; Departure). She’s gotten Mandy into a situation that is tearing through her entire workplace and exposing their imitation Burke and Hare operation. Over the course of one long night in Arkansas, the hospital will become the last place you’ll want to end up.
Angela Bettis is, simply put, the most criminally underappreciated actress working today. She’s every bit as good as the top names out there demanding top money. When you give her a character to really chew on, she gives you a performance that dares you to look away. She’s comfortable making you uncomfortable as Mandy, but she’s also giving you a bad ass woman that you naturally pull for despite the fact that she’s not written that way. There are very few actresses that can give you that. Bettis gives you her best performance since the absolutely killer year she had in 2002 with the TV version of Carrie (easily the most nuanced performance of Carrie White ever) and Lucky McKee’s May.
Brea Grant gets great work out of Mick Foley as the foul-mouthed and sinister organ-trafficker Nicholas. I’m inclined to complain at the sparsity of his scenes; in his case less is NOT more. It’s a minor gripe (and may have a tad to do with being a lifelong wrestling fan/encyclopedia), but his natural gift for cutting a promo allows him to monologue in a fashion that’s a delight to watch. Even more impressive is the pure silliness of Regina, a white-trash princess who’s so stereotypical that she drives a fucking pink Corvette. Chloe Farnworth embraces her role in a way that’s heavily reminiscent of Zoey Deutch’s amazing turn as scene-stealer Madison in Zombieland: Double Tap. To say she leans into it a bit for this character would be an understatement. Also, David Arquette does what he always does, which is play some crazy version of himself. Of course, it works…and he’s as underutilized as Mick Foley.
12-Hour Shift makes some choices musically at times that will not be to everyone’s taste, but I damn sure didn’t have any complaints. I’m a traditional Southern boy, though, so I wasn’t sure where we were headed when the hymns started. As my smile grew wider, I couldn’t help but tap my foot. I don’t know if it was appropriate, but it felt so right. It turns out that Brea Grant is right – “No movie is complete without a little dance sequence”.
That’s where the fun really lays in 12-Hour Shift; you wouldn’t think that organ thievery, classic hynms, pointless murder, and awkward family relationships full of real heart would gel, but somehow it manages to feel quite a lot like a love letter to Kevin Smith’s Clerks. Mandy and Karen are the Dante and Randal of this story. I guess that makes Regina a bit Olaf, Silent Bob’s cousin from Russia…
Sorry, I got a bit lost in my enjoyment for a moment there. All of that isn’t to say there’s no depth in 12-Hour Shift; the more ludicrous scenarios are often the only thing keeping this from being a scathing treatise on the opioid problem in America and how criminally stupid it can make people. Sure, it’s horror because it’s gruesome and hideous, but it’s equally horrific because it’s not far-fetched. I’ve never been to any Arkansas hospitals in the wee hours of the morning.
Still, I don’t intend to take any chances.
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