While lacking in development writer/director Brea Grant delivers a surprisingly entertaining flick in 12 Hour Shift that isn’t afraid to dip its toes into the absurd. A wonderful watch with a stand out performance from Chloe Farnworth.
Junkie nurse Mandy (Angela Bettis) makes extra money selling organs of dying patients whose demise she speeds along. But, when her cousin Regina (Chloe Farnworth) misplaces a kidney – which local gangster Nick (Mick Foley) was going to buy – Mandy finds herself having to acquire a fresh one during a 12-hour shift. Chaos descends when Regina insists on helping in lethal ways and a wounded murderer (David Arquette) breaks loose.
At no point in 12 Hour Shift do you get a sense of reality. Be it the slightly dated setting of 1999, or its rural setting. This is a film that doesn’t try to explain itself, doesn’t want to and most importantly doesn’t care what you think about it. So much happens in effectively 11 hours that you are not sure how anyone left alive isn’t rocking back and forth in a corner. People carry on with their day as more and more blood and dangerous men appear.
We also have an abundance of characters who we should without a shadow of doubt hate. We should not like these characters, Mandy is our lead who is cutting out organs of dead people and seemingly knocking near-death patients a bit quicker to get what is required. Why should we root for her? Well because everyone else around her is somehow worse. What results is an entertaining as a hell horror comedy that just wants to bring the laugh and the blood to the audience.
This is as well rounded a cast as you will find. While Angela Bettis is a standout for her overly dry performance as Mandy, she plays a character that has gone through quite a bit seeing as she has now headed into a world of addiction. Her deadpan and dead-eyed portrayal carries the film when we venture into the more daft side of the film. She is a great counterweight to all over the place Farnworth.
Chloe Farnworth brings the colour (also a lot of red) to the film, be it from her bright pink sports car to her bright and colourful personality. She is the polar opposite of Mandy and their interactions are gold. You want to hate Regina so much, yet her relentless chirpiness forces you to somehow root for her. She is a true force in the 12 Hour Shift as although Mandy is firmly rooted to the ground, it feels like Farnworth has helped develop a character that is about to float off into the sky if someone cuts the wrong string. This is an utter joy of a performance and a reason why 12 Hour Shift works.
For a film with such a strong cast and some top performances. It is a shame that almost all of them are so poorly underwritten. We do not see much character development from the characters. With Mandy suffering the most. She gets a smidgen of development by eventually caring about the life of her half-brother, but she remains so stoic to anyone else as if this is just another day. There needs to be more from where these characters start their journey and finish by the final credits. Being non-pulsed about any of the wild events that have gone on isn’t enough.
The same is said for the actual narrative, there feels as if there is just too much going on in 12 Hour Shift. Yes, it is meant to be a farce with everything acuminating into this one night. However, chaos and madness should bring us to a finale worth remembering. It certainly teases that, this is the way it is going to go. Yet, the finale itself is underwhelming. This is a film that has a murdered wandering around a small hospital casually and a wounded, bloody thug chasing after people and harming those in his way. Not to mention more of what goes on! It should end with something bloody and amazing, yet it just tidies itself up quite easily with characters happily walking away from it. There just needed to be a bit of gravity to it all.
Somehow this doesn’t detract from the overall film with 12 Hour Shift bringing all the fun and off-kilter joy that you would want. This will without a doubt appeal to genre fans and those with an off-beat sense of humour.
FrightFest Presents and Signature Entertainment present 12 Hour Shift on Digital Platforms 25th January.
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