As someone who loves movies that cover a specific time period where a central character has to deal with everything going totally sideways for them, 12 Hour Shift scratched that cinematic itch for me and delivers up a darkly comedic caper of sorts centered around organ trafficking taking place in a small town hospital in Arkansas. This is the second feature film from Brea Grant, and for as much as I enjoyed her debut movie Best Friends Forever, 12 Hour Shift proves that she’s grown in so many ways as a filmmaker over the last few years, and it makes me extremely excited about what the future holds for her career.
12 Hour Shift follows an embittered junkie of a nurse named Mandy (played by the always incomparable Angela Bettis), who has just began an overnight shift at the hospital (hence, where the name of the film comes from), but has no idea just the amount of hijinks and mishaps that are in store for her over the next 12 hours. As it turns out, Mandy and a co-worker have been doing a bit of organ trafficking on the down-low for Nick, a ruthless crime boss (Mick Foley, in a wonderfully hysterical shiny shirt). Her dim-witted cousin Regina (Chloe Farnworth) has been acting as Nick’s runner, but on this night in particular, a kidney that Regina was tasked with collecting goes missing, which incites Nick and puts Regina on a path towards retrieving a new kidney by any means necessary.
Mandy, who barely has any patience for those in her care, certainly has absolutely no time for Regina’s shenanigans, and from there, things only get more complicated for both ladies as they do their best to make it through the rest of the night unscathed.
I’m being slightly vague with my summary towards the end, because 12 Hour Shift takes so many unexpected twists and turns throughout the course of its story. But suffice to say, if you dig films like Fargo, Quick Change or even Go, then Grant’s latest should definitely be right in your wheelhouse. There’s something endearingly despicable about the characters in 12 Hour Shift where, even though most of them aren’t particularly good people, you still can’t help but root for them to make it through everything as it unfolds.
Of course, that’s largely due to Grant’s well-conceived and viciously entertaining script that makes every moment count, but it doesn’t hurt that she also has a murderer’s row of talent involved in 12 Hour Shift, with Bettis proving once again why she’s easily one of the most enthralling actresses to come along in decades. Farnworth is also a delight in 12 Hour Shift, as her character’s ineptness adds something of a slapstick sensibility to the story that adds some levity to balance out against the film’s darker elements, and for as frustrating as Regina as a character can be at times in this, Farnworth is absolutely great, and I’d be down to watch a whole run of movies featuring her character and Bettis’ getting into all kinds of trouble.
There’s a subplot in 12 Hour Shift that introduces us to a convict named Jefferson, which doesn’t ultimately go anywhere story-wise, but it does give us a memorable performance from David Arquette, which I enjoyed. And my only quibble with the film is that I would have enjoyed seeing more from that storyline incorporated into the overall narrative, but I don’t think it was enough of a misstep to take away from everything else that 12 Hour Shift gets right. Without a doubt, Grant has crafted an acerbic screwball crime caper that has its razor-sharp tongue planted firmly in its cheek, and I absolutely adored every single madcap minute of it.
Movie Score: 4/5
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