Starring Angela Bettis, David Arquette, Chloe Farnworth
Written by Brea Grant
Directed by Brea Grant
Written and directed by Brea Grant (After Midnight), who is well-known in indie genre film, 12 Hour Shift is a black comedy about a drug-addicted nurse who is involved in an organ-harvesting scheme that goes wrong. The film stars another indie favorite, Angela Bettis (May, The Woman), as Nurse Mandy, Chloe Farnworth as her dim-witted sidekick cousin Regina, and David Arquette (Scream), as Jefferson, a prisoner being held in the hospital where Mandy works. 12 Hour Shift premieres at Fantasia International Film Festival on August 22nd and will be in theaters and on demand October 2nd from Magnet Releasing.
Spanning Mandy’s 12-hour shift at an Arkansas hospital in 1999, 12 Hour Shift begins with Regina picking up what she thinks are stolen organs in a cooler from the drop-off location in the hospital where Mandy left them and delivering them to the boss Nicholas, played by Mick Foley. The only problem is, Regina delivers an empty cooler to Nicholas, who then threatens to take her organs if she doesn’t correct her mistake right away. Regina doesn’t want to die, so she speeds back to the hospital and confronts Mandy about the missing organs, leading to a darkly hilarious night in the hospital.
I’ve been a fan of Angela Bettis since she starred in Lucky McKee’s gruesome film May back in 2002, followed by her role in McKee’s Sick Girl (2006) for Masters of Horror, and she is the perfect casting choice for stressed out, drug-addled Nurse Mandy. Bettis portrays Mandy with an annoyed calmness that leaves you wondering if she is going to snap or if she just needs another hit. When a panicked Regina returns to the hospital and tells Mandy the organs are missing, the two of them go on a quest to replace the missing organs, which leaves behind a trail of blood and dead bodies.
Grant’s script is witty and filled with dry humor, which is conveyed skillfully by the entire cast, especially Bettis and Farnworth as Mandy and Regina, who interact in a frenzied, but perfectly timed comedic way. Regina is what I call country glam (don’t hate me for being from the South), loud-mouthed, and unfortunately for Mandy, not the brightest bulb in the box. Mandy has a specific system for acquiring organs from unsuspecting patients, but Regina is in a hurry, and tries to procure the organs herself, leading to too many dead bodies. There is just the right amount of blood and gore in 12 Hour Shift, including stolen organs in plastic bags and a misadventure by Mandy in the morgue.
At one point during the blood-stained madness, David Arquette shows up as a prisoner named Jefferson who was being treated in the hospital and escapes to join in the calamity, adding another layer of humor to the story. Nikea Gamby-Turner is great as Mandy’s co-worker, Karen, who is also involved in the organ-harvesting scam. Kit Williamson is very funny as Officer Myers, who is trying to figure out exactly what is going on in the hospital while the bodies are piling up.
Angela Bettis is fantastic in this movie, but I also really love the way she and Farnworth masterfully juggle humor and horror, while maneuvering awkward interactions with the other characters, making 12 Hour Shift a dark and fun experience for genre fans. This film is deranged, blood-splattered, and sometimes hysterical, thanks to an outstanding cast and a clever story. If we weren’t restricted to virtual festivals this year, 12 Hour Shift would easily be a favorite at a midnight showing.
12 Hour Shift is a frenzied, bloody, often hilarious dark comedy driven by clever writing and phenomenal performances.