• Nate Adams

Review: Horror comedy '12 Hour Shift' drenched in gore and bad taste


Courtesy of Magnet Releasing

Corrupted nurses are on the prowl for organs in Brea Grant’s “12 Hour Shift.” Anyone that’s watched “Nurse Jackie” will know how some of the narrative goes, but in the wake of the pandemic, the film acts like an assault on nurses who put themselves on the front line each day. There are some clever, genuinely funny moments punctuated by a trailer trash performance from the godchild of B-movies: David Arquette (he also produced), except Grant’s film is trenched in bad taste and airless energy that too often, you wonder if anyone realized the poor timing of its release. 


Of all the characters in the film, veteran actress Angela Bettis’s Mandy is the most down to earth whose night shifts are filled with drug overdosers, bleach, and coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. The year, for reasons I can’t explain, is 1999, just on the cusp of Y2K. Aside from the occasional boxed television, the year is fairly redundant, with no signs of mass hysteria. I suppose Grant made this decision so characters couldn’t pull out their cell phones and tweet or call for help? 


Nurse Mandy spends her nights roaming the halls with a defined sense of purpose. Not really the social type, nor peppy enough to chip in for an employee’s birthday celebration (if she weren’t on probation, perhaps a forced smile wouldn’t come so easily). She must tread lightly, because her side hustle depends on the freedom with which her night shift entails. Mandy harvests organs, stealing them from the cavadars of recently deceased patients, bags them and puts them on the black market. 


Usually the plans go accordingly, Mandy sticks the organ inside a small ice cooler, and leaves it by the hospital vending machine for pickup, never seeing who makes the drops. But this plan hits some roadblocks with the arrival of Mandy’s clumsy, blonde cousin (Chole Farnworth) who would lose her head if it wasn’t attached to the body. Adding insult to injury, Mandy has a connection with someone in the hospital who just OD’d and cops are patrolling the building because a convicted serial killer (Arquette) tried to kill himself prior to his death sentence. 


What follows is a night of twisted, blood soaked mayhem where these characters have to contend with their biggest adversaries: themselves. Running a lean 88 minutes, Grant’s film has the ingredients for trashy midnight madness tomfoolery, but once the proverbial shit hits the fan, none of these blue collar, working class buffoons - especially Mandy - get a lid on things, moving at a snail's pace constantly yelling: “What’s going on?!” 


Bystanders are badly mamed and injured (at one point, someone’s bladder is surgically removed because they assumed it was a kidney) and you wonder if this is a metaphor for the uncertainty felt doing the Y2K phenomenon. In addition to the pacing problems, these characters don’t make for a compelling group, which eventually gives way for “12 Hour Shift” and its submission to scratchy dialogue, horrendously cheesy acting and sloppy effects.


Grade: D


12 HOUR SHIFT opens in select theaters and digital/on demand Friday October 2nd.