Even though many of us haven’t seen the inside of our workspaces in some time, there’s always an appetite for a workplace comedy. Is that what 12 Hour Shift is? Depends what part you watch. Sure, it’s about a working woman trying her best, but this is no Working Girl. The new genre flick from writer/ director Brea Grant is a mishmash of styles that culminates in a, pardon me, side splitting grim tale that’s the bloodiest take on the one night, one place movie.
Mandy (Angela Bettis) is a nurse whose painted on sneer suggests she lacks any bedside manner. She has a habit of stealing patients’ pills, their clothes, and their organs. Tonight, she’s working a double. After lifting a particularly valuable kidney to pass off to her cousin, Regina (Chloe Farnworth), Mandy heads back to the job but as a result of Regina’s professional incompetence causing her to botch the parcel delivery and a sudden raise in kidney demand, Mandy gets roped into trying to liberate more organs from an empty patient buffet. If the night isn’t already off to a bad start, she’s trapped inside her ward with not just her dim cousin, Regina, but a needy patient and her daughter, a familiar patient barely hanging on from an overdose, and a killer.
12 Hour Shift is a bananas B-horror that makes me envy anyone who can see it after midnight with a crowd. The grimy pain jobs and gnarly hospital stage make you want to be watching the flickering florescent lights while in pure darkness. It feels gross. What a credit.
The strongest thing about this movie is that it’s weird as hell. It takes place in 1999 for some reason, the characters are cartoony, bizarre plot devices pop in nonstop and sometimes people break into song. Though it’s certainly a bloody gross mess, it smells a lot like Birdman and feels a lot like Snatch as it’s a mess of intersecting characters whose lives only overlap because a bunch of people are chasing a difficult to acquire item in a case that was lost by a doofus. There are some cool tracking shots and drum music that evoke these titans, but 12 Hour Shift is most certainly something on its own.
Angela Bettis was just the right actress to execute this lead, being an unlikable protagonist you barely want to root for. Rare is it to have an unlikable female lead, so Bettis kicks ass as the trashy nurse with an irredeemable side hustle. Regina reads like the world’s dumbest Harley Quinn and I love her for it. Though not shown doing it on screen, you’ll swear you remember her fixing her ponytail in the mirror, no matter how much blood is on her scrubs. David Arquette as the killer, Jefferson, is a lot of fun here in his own Casey Becker role being that he doesn’t have a tonne to do but absolutely ‘kills’ what he does. Nikea Gamby-Turner as Karen was the standout for me and delivered her lines as a cartoony fed up nurse who is also a crime boss in such a convincing and warm way, you almost want to hang out with her even though she might force you to drink bleach.
There are times where you might furrow your brow and think “is this just a mess?” but then the climax comes ringing and you’ll think “messes are good.” It’s so balls to the wall bizarre in every one of the best ways, you’ll hesitate wondering if it’s a slasher or a thriller or a heist movie, but you won’t care because you’ll it’s a blast. 12 Hour Shift is a perfect example of a film knowing exactly what it is and working within those parameters. It’s a nasty thriller that focuses on an unlikable woman struggling to manage a bunch of moving parts and remaining unphased in a way we expect a trauma nurse working a double to do.