After a quick cigarette break, 12 Hour Shift wastes no time getting to its neo-noir horror-comedy roots about a black market organ deal gone wrong. Mandy (Angela Bettis), a nurse working the graveyard shift in Arkansas during 1999, is swarmed with people who frequently ask her for favors that she has no way to say no to. At least, that’s what this scene is inferring.
12 Hour Shift doesn’t leave much room for interpretation. The script takes every opportunity to upend our expectations of how something will play out. It has some noticeable sacrifices in logic, but whenever they appear, it’s used well. Likewise, it has some of the best quotes of the year, such as “I don’t want to shoot you! You already fuckin’ shot me!”
Complementing this excellent script are the actors. From a hypochondriac (Tom DeTrinis)to a too-good-for-this-world nurse (Tara Perry), Mandy’s not the one to make small talk. Getting past her cold exterior is Karen (Nikes Gamby-Turner), who gives Mandy ways to sneak organs out of the hospital for a crime boss (WWE’s Mick Foley). The process is relatively painless, and organs mostly come from people already on their deathbed.
This was all running smoothly until Regina (Chloe Farnworth) shows up. Regina is a distant cousin that has a few screws loose upstairs if you catch my meaning. After being given the job of getting an organ from the hospital to the boss, she somehow manages to lose them. Having misplaced a very important piece of merchandise, Nicholas tells her in no uncertain terms that if she doesn’t find it within a few hours, it’ll be her kidneys they’ll transplant.
With her kidneys on the line, Regina decides to impersonate a nurse to find a suitable donor. The thing is, Regina is just an ordinary citizen – she doesn’t know what drugs do what or how the human body works, so she naturally ends up botching several attempts to obtain replacement kidneys, leaving Mandy to cover her tracks. As the night progresses, things get a little hectic.
The sound design and the accompanying score seems focused on placing us in the main character’s ears, with diegetic audio to match. Throughout the film, the score uses this to demonstrate a headache through the use of a low hum and pounding drum at the back of the soundscape, an operatic score in sections where a character is safe and certain words when they’re not.
The humor is all in how this film is edited. I kid you not, and there is a section in which Regina throws Flamin’ Hot Cheetos into her and someone else’s mouth in a parking lot, and it is so ridiculous you can’t help but laugh. The film also finds a voice in its match cuts, like when Mandy drinks coffee right after telling someone she couldn’t find it.
If you’re in the mood for a horror-comedy that is as smart as you are, check 12 Hour Shift out.
12 Hour Shift is available on premium video on demand.