12 Hour Shift
Brea Grant’s horror-comedy farce, 12 Hour Shift, offers the minds of its audience no respite from the chaos of the world as it lays its scene within an unhinged hospital. Granted, its overarching sense of unease cannot be pinned solely on the current state of the world, but rather its own dizzying lack of centre.
As the box suggests, the movie tracks the lengthy double shift of Arkansan hospital nurse Mandy (Angela Bettis) as she tries to get through the night alive. It’s immediately clear that this may be even more difficult than meets the eye. Not only do we see Mandy snorting lines in the stockroom at the start and throughout her shift, but she’s also entangled in a black market scheme harvesting patients’ organs and selling them off to her generically blonde bimbo cousin Regina (Chloe Farnworth). Grant then adds a cop-hating convict, a hyper-religious nurse and a clueless police officer into the mix. As expected, bloody chaos ensues. To top it all off, it’s 1999 and the panic surrounding Y2K is lurking in the air. Elements of the narrative promise humour but instead deliver unrelenting and headache-inducing mania.
Almost all plot points are chalked up to the stupidity of the characters. It seems Grant opted for comedy instead of characterisation, ultimately winding up with neither. Angela Bettis’ portrayal offers a glimpse of internal life but it drowns the film’s raucous unravelling. There is a randomness to each character which is articulated early on and most preciently by a meandering interlude featuring Regina, who carelessly moves through the Arkansan landscape (dancing, peeing and cheese puff eating) en route to drop off a kidney in a cooler.
Perhaps there is something to be said if we superimpose 12 Hour Shift with allegorical meaning. What but chaos can be expected with a medical system understaffed and direly lacking in resources?
12 Hour Shift is released digitally on demand on 25th January 2021.
Watch the trailer for 12 Hour Shift here: