’12 Hour Shift’ is a Bloody Delight

by Stephen Silver
Published: Last Updated on

Tribeca Film Festival 2020

“Why would you bring this cousin of yours in on this when you now she would kill people and rat us both out?” 

“I sometimes have too much faith in humanity.” 

12 Hour Shift is a movie just odd enough to include an exchange like that. The film, written and directed by Heroes and Friday Night Lights actress Brea Grant, is a pitch-black horror-comedy, set mostly in a hospital and built around an organ-smuggling ring. It’s bloody, violent, scored with an incongruously weird musical score, and it’s set for some reason against the backdrop of the Y2K bug. I dug it immensely. 

Set to screen this month at the Tribeca Film Festival, in the U.S. Narrative Competition, until the festival which was postponed due to coronavirus, 12 Hour Shift is among the films that has been made available to the press and industry as part of its “virtual library.” The film lacks distribution thus far, and it’s unclear when it might become available for general audiences. Even when Tribeca happens, and there’s no pandemic, the festival’s films can sometimes take up to a year to reach theaters. But it’s worth checking out once it does. 

12 Hour Shift

Grant, who wrote and starred in Lucky, another movie that was to show at South by Southwest, said in a recent interview that she based off of urban legends, such as the guy who woke up in the bathtub with his kidneys missing (Justified, in a late-series episode, also had some fun with that particular myth.) 

The film, shot on location at a hospital in Arkansas, is set over the course of a 12-hour double shift, worked by Mandy (Angela Bettis), a drug-addicted nurse. Involved in an organ-harvesting scheme led by her gangster cousin (played by WWE legend Mick Foley), Mandy brings along her ne’er-do-well cousin Regina (Chloe Farnworth) who must masquerade as a nurse. Also on board is David Arquette, as a convict who’s a patient at the hospital, and is lit, somewhat hilariously with a red backglow much of the time. And Kit Williamson has a memorable turn as a dimwitted policeman. 

12 Hour Shift

It’s a Coen Brothers-type story, with unlikely criminals having to deliver a certain thing to scary criminals within a certain time period, and having to improvise when the original plans fall through. Because if there’s one thing more outrageous than characters stealing organs from dead bodies, it’s when a character has to do that without knowing what they’re doing. 

The final hour of the 86-minute film somewhat resembles a door-slamming farce, albeit one with lots of blood and stolen organs. It’s also the only movie this year whose cast consists of not one but two former pro wrestling world champions- Mick Foley, and David Arquette, although the two men never appear in the same scene. Foley is only in the film briefly, but Arquette gives his most amusing performance in a decade. 

Bettis is what makes the movie go, as someone who actually looks like she could be a nurse in Arkansas, while Farnsworth is also very good, whose exit from the film is especially memorable. 

That score, too, is something else- it’s hard to describe but resembles a cross between experimental instrumentation and Norwegian heavy metal. This film is so indie that the composer, Matt Glass, is also credited as the producer, the cinematographer, and the guy you’re supposed to contact if you want a print. 

Whenever 12 Hour Shift surfaces, it’s worth a look for anyone who enjoys a horror-comedy that’s funny as it is creative.

Editor’s Note: In the wake of the postponement this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, Goomba Stomp is reviewing select fest entries that elected to premiere digitally for critics.

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