12 HOUR SHIFT (2020)
Directed by Brea Grant
Written by Brea Grant
Starring Angela Bettis, David Arquette, Chloe Farnworth, Mick Foley, Kit Williamson, Nikea Gamby-Turner, Tara Perry, Brooke Seguin, Dusty Warren, Tom DeTrinis, Thomas Hobson, Julianne Dowler, Briana Lane, Taylor Alden, Scott Dean, Missy Stahr Threadgill, Ted Ferguson, Sydney Steinberg, Morgan Peter Brown
Find out more about this film here!
Brea Grant is best known for significant roles in BEYOND THE GATES, DEXTER, Rob Zombie’s HALLOWEEN II, and as the plucky speedster in HEROES. This year, she shined brightly in Jeremy Gardner’s AFTER MIDNIGHT and now she plays the role of director for the new dark comedy 12 HOUR SHIFT. This is Grant’s second feature film—her first being the post-apocalyptic buddy movie BEST FRIENDS FOREVER, and it shows that not only is she great in front of the camera, but a true talent behind it as well.
MAY’s Angela Bettis plays Mandy a beleaguered nurse, addicted to multiple drugs and willing to bend and break the rules in order to support her habit. Mandy’s been working with her cousin Nicholas (Mick Foley), swapping him organs of the recently deceased for big money. Mandy’s other cousin, Regina (the very Samara Weaving-esque Chloe Farnworth) has joined in on the scam and is acting as the middle man transporting the organs from the hospital to Nicholas’ warehouse. The swap occurs at the beginning of Mandy’s 12 hour shift, but the drop off doesn’t go so well and thus a pitch black comedy of errors begins as Regina desperately tries to find a new kidney and relies on Mandy to help cover up her mistakes. Meanwhile, a cop killer (David Arquette) is admitted to the hospital, throwing an even bigger crowbar into the mix as Mandy and Regina seem to have no compunctions against killing patients in order to get the organs they need.
Grant keeps the pace quick, matching the manic Mandy as she self-medicates with whatever extra drugs she can get her hands on. The film pretty much balances itself on Bettis’ slender but capable shoulders as a touchpoint to all of the different plotlines that are going on at once. The film offers up a large cast of characters, all unique and fun, which makes it all the easier to follow. Grant’s dialog as well as her rapid editing makes it so there is never a dull moment all the way through. A ton of personality from the vibrant characters lead to some cool moments just put in there for fun such as a MAGNOLIA-esque song sung by multiple characters in different situations and a fun out of the blue dance number by an ambulance driver. The locale of the hospital, with its sterile walls and repetitive doors and hallways are a great contrast to the absolute chaos of activity and multitude of story twists. It acts as a labyrinth in which you never know what kind of craziness is lingering around the corner to cause Mandy more problems.
If you take anything away from 12 HOUR SHIFT, it’s that Angela Bettis is a marvelous actress. Anyone who saw MAY or her role as the title character in the first CARRIE remake knows she can be a quirky performer. But here she is given a broad range of miles to cover in terms of emotion and character. She is given a great arc that develops in a thoughtful way as she seems to come to grips with the reason she does so many drugs and may or may not do something about it after the credits roll. I hope we see much more of her in the future as this is a role that people should take notice to. The other standout is Chloe Farnworth, who could have played her role as a one-note ditsy blonde, but instead put some nuance in her Regina who is desperately trying to fix her own fuck-up, but only making matters worse at every turn. Hers is a much more physically exhaustive role as there are a lot of gags that work well through simple looks and actions alone.
Arquette is decent here as well, though his part to play in this romp is much lesser than Mandy and Regina’s. Arquette is more of an obstacle the actresses have to maneuver around than anything else. Rounding out the cast is Kit Williamson as Officer Myers, a dim-witted cop who barely understands all of the craziness that is occurring around him. Still, the reason for these two guys to be there are to give Mandy and Regina problems to move around and they both do it in a satisfyingly comic way.
12 HOUR SHIFT is pitch black in tone. While the whole thing is played for laughs, the dangers are real and there is a solid sense that at any moment Mandy and Regina could be caught, murdered, or worse for their wrongdoings. You’ll be laughing one minute and gasping the next at the unwavering onslaught of action, drama, gore, and undeniably funny situations. Director/writer Grant handles comedy, horror, drama, and action with a skilled hand, juggling a multitude of dangerous plots and dastardly characters with ease, yet never forgetting to button it all down with real emotional heft. Reminiscent of darkly comedic crime stories like IN BRUGES, SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS, THE BIG HIT, and THURSDAY, Brea Grant’s 12 HOUR SHIFT is a solid indie romp that shouldn’t be missed.