Fantasia 2020 Review: 12 Hour Shift

Caught between genres, 12 Hour Shift is DOA

Billed as a dark horror-comedy, 12 Hour Shift is DOA when it comes to delivering any laughs or frights.

Director Brea Grant’s film has plenty of promise: May’s stellar Angela Bettis is Mandy, an overworked junkie nurse who along with her scheming and stupid cousin Regina (Chloe Farnworth), is part of a black market organ ring. When one harvest goes wrong, a bloody misadventure ensues during Mandy’s overnight hospital shift as Regina becomes desperate to find a replacement for a lost organ.

Inexplicably set in 1999, 12 Hour Shift takes a premise that is rife for the perfect blend of laughs and bloodshed and instead, each promising set-up is left to flounder. Cruel and heartless, there’s no one here to root for. Mandy is a morally ambiguous protagonist, a nurse adept at scowling who uses bleach to murder terminally ill patients in order to take their precious organs whose ultimate moment of redemption comes too late and too out of the blue for it to really make much sense.

12 Hour Shift is a movie caught between genres – had it gone full out bloody comedy it would have brought the bizarre laughs the set-up warrants as hapless criminals attempt to carve out organ after organ for drug money. Leaning into the horror of its premise, 12 Hour Shift would have become a medical tale of terror with plenty of sources for blood and gore found in Grant’s script. Instead, it tries to be too many things at once instead of carving its own twisted path.

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Competently made, the failures of 12 Hour Shift are not due to the performances nor direction. Bettis has a lot to work with and gives it her all, as does Farnworth as the increasingly grating and insane Regina and David Arquette in a small role. Like the story’s tone, the cinematography is also a mixed bag, at times making it look like something out of cheaply-made television production in contrast to the dark tableau Grant has set up.

12 Hour Shift is available as part of Fantasia’s 2020 virtual line-up.

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