12 HOUR SHIFT
(director/writer: Brea Grant; cinematographer: Matt Glass; music: Matt Glass; cast: Angela Bettis (Mandy), Chloe Farnworth (Regina), Mick Foley (Nicholas), David Arquette (Jefferson), Dusty Warren (Mikey), Kit Williamson ( Officer Myers), Nikea Gamba-Turner (Karen), Tom DeTrains (Mr. Kent), Tara Perry (Dorothy), Ted Ferguson (Mr. Collins), Missy Stahr Treadgill (Mrs. Patrick); Runtime: 86; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Tara Perry/Jordan Wayne/David Arquette/Matt Glass; HCT Media; 2020)
“The film’s message might be that you can only keep murderous psychopaths quiet for only so long before they erupt.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
It’s a dark comedy mystery story written and directed by the Texas-born former actress Brea Grant (“Best Friends Forever”), that has an hilarious misanthropic theme with cult film possibilities.
It’s set during the Y2K bug crisis, as the cops are at meetings about that anticipated event in 1999 and not out in full force. In a small rural hospital in Arkansas (filmed in Jonesboro), the overworked and underpaid, junkie ER nurse, Mandy (Angela Bettis), snorts “uppers,” as she’s about to begin her 12 hour shift (a double shift). The shift supervisor Karen (Nikea Gamby-Turner) is part of the ER staff’s crooked operation of harvesting the organs of poisoned by bleach patients for a local black market dealer, the bad dude named Nicholas (Mick Foley). Meanwhile Mandy’s dim-witted and psychopathic cousin-by-marriage, Regina (Chloe Farnsworth), who is both a rat and a killer, winds up at the ER as a drunk after partying in the parking lot, that is after she has stupidly lost the kidney organ she was supposed to deliver to Nicholas. The exasperated Mandy is filled with scowls and looks of disbelief, as she now needs to find another organ or else must deal with the ruthless Nicholas. So she decides to get them from the just brought in from prison murderer, the lifer, Jefferson (David Arquette), who was brought to ER because he attempted suicide.
The other two new patients in the ward are the regular OD Mikey (Dusty Warren) and a Mr. Kent (Tom DeTrains), experiencing a nervous breakdown.
Mandy and her cheerful rival Dorothy (Tara Perry) make the normal shift rounds, as they check on the dialysis patient Mr. Collins (Ted Ferguson) and a bedridden patient, the famous local restaurant owner, Mrs. Patrick (Missy Stahr Treadgill), who demands and receives special treatment from the staff.
With the odd assortment of characters in place and the spine-tingling music of the cinematographer Matt Glass cranking up his score, it leads to an over-the-top third act. Violence and carnage fill the screen, as the film’s message might be that you can only keep murderous psychopaths quiet for only so long before they erupt.
How funny you find it may depend on how much you believe it overreaches the boundaries of good taste. But despite its story being of dubious social value, there are no boring moments, it’s very funny, it’s well-made and it’s wacky. Also, Go figure!, there’s a strange musical interlude of the creepy church song “Blood on the Lamb,” which suddenly pops up in the middle of the film.
It was set to have its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival prior to its cancellation because of the coronavirus, but can now be viewed online.
REVIEWED ON 5/22/2020 GRADE: B