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  12 Hour Shift Carry Off Nurse
Year: 2020
Director: Brea Grant
Stars: 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
Genre: Horror, Comedy, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: As a nurse, Mandy (Angela Bettis) is not exactly a little ray of sunshine, having no tolerance for the small talk of her colleagues and unbothered by being rude to people's faces if she is losing patience with them. But she has a secret: more than one, in fact, as she sneaks medication away from her patients to take herself, as it is the only thing that gets her through her shifts, and also, somehow she has become involved in organ trafficking to supplement her meagre income. She knows someone who knows someone who will pay a pretty penny for healthy organs, and today has arranged a kidney to be picked up by Regina (Chloe Farnworth), a distant relative...

Well, Chloe believes them to be cousins, but that is only because of a marriage in their extended family, and they do not share a bloodline, but this point she insists on labouring is the first of many indications that Chloe is not dealing with a full deck. Seemingly a typical comedy dumb blonde, her stupidity does not exhibit it in a sweetness of nature, nope, she is the vindictive, conniving, uncaring type thanks to her dedication to her lack of intelligence, and played by Englishwoman Farnworth (showing off her impeccable Arkansas accent) she was a terrific villain to be let loose around a hospital with hassled staff abounding, and patients not much of a help either. She and Bettis, a horror veteran by that stage, made a formidable double act across the titular shift.

Indeed, you could be mistaken for thinking this wasn't very funny at all, so painful was actress turned director and writer Brea Grant's grim determination to give the characters the worst night of their lives. Yet the impression was it was not that unusual for these events to unfold the way they did, and if it was not typical night within the hospital walls, Mandy's numb, exhausted acceptance of her lot was indicative of the lives of many medical staff, not only in America, but across the planet. Perhaps it was appropriate to be released during the pandemic, though even here the chaos did not feel as if it was as intense as many of the experiences of real-life doctors and nurses.

Performances across the board were very well-delivered, suggesting if Grant had wanted to she could have turned this into a bloodbath sitcom, settling on one night of mayhem each episode, but as it was 12 Hour Shift was a tightly-plotted war of attrition on Mandy as she struggled to keep her head above water, or at least out of a jail cell. Not everyone was as stupid as Regina, but she was the person who largely propelled the mayhem as she loses the organ she was supposed to deliver to the local gangster, and is forced to try and get it back - if she cannot do that, she will have to replace it, and if she cannot supply somebody else's kidney, her own will have to do. She is so ludicrously self-centred that she cannot perceive why ending another life to get herself out of trouble would be in any way morally wrong.

The theme that stupidity was the animating force in the universe was so strong that it threatened to overwhelm the laughs, for no matter how superbly played plenty of this was it did have you thinking of all the times when you've encountered someone so unintelligent that it causes them to behave, shall we say, rather badly to their fellow human. Unless you were that idiot, in which case you might not get much out of this movie, but even so, it was so well-observed that it became painful to watch in places. Grant threw in producer David Arquette as a prisoner admitted to hospital after a suicide attempt that may have been a ruse to allow him to escape, one of the gangster's henchmen arriving to menace the two not-really-cousins, and a cop who is always on the verge of finding out all about Mandy's lawbreaking but is not quite sharp enough to put two and two together, though he has all the clues at his disposal. With its one damn thing after another plotting, the juggling to keep it in the air impressed, but be warned it was strong stuff. Eccentric music by Matt Glass.

[FrightFest Presents and Signature Entertainment present 12 Hour Shift on Digital HD 25th January 2021.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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