Nurses have a tough life, and many aren’t paid a decent wage. They are usually the first contact with patients after they’re admitted, the ones who carry out doctor’s orders, and a lot are unsung heroes, especially these days. There are some excellent ones and some really terrible nurses, and then there are those who walk a fine line between morality and desperation. It’s those nurses we meet in Brea Grant’s 12 Hour Shift.
Mandy (Angela Bettis) is a nurse with a problem. She’s addicted to prescription drugs and earns money on the side by selling organs from various deceased patients in the hospital under the scam coordinator and head nurse, Karen (Nikea Gamby-Turner). When Mandy’s runner, her cousin Regina (Chloe Farnworth), screws up a delivery, the race is on for them to find another kidney before they have to pay the piper, namely Nicholas (Mick Foley), the organ trafficker.
Written and directed by Brea Grant, 12 Hour Shift is a lot of morbid fun, and Grant is a talent. She also screened Lucky at Fantastia, which she starred in and wrote. Her perspective is very much needed in the male-dominated film industry. Life in a small town can be mundane, and this caper spices up the overnight shift in a kooky way. We’ve got a suicidal convict (the film’s producer, David Arquette), a pesky hypochondriac (Tom DeTrinis), a dancing EMT worker, and a couple of nerdy cops. There’s one mishap after the other plus a musical break, all occurring as the world prepares for Y2K.
We haven’t seen Bettis in a long time, and this entry back onto the screen was much needed. It was like seeing an old friend and realizing why you liked her so much. She’s dry, she’s prickly, and plays Mandy’s role effortlessly. Farnworth is the perfect foil for Bettis’ Mandy – ditzy, and too ambitious for her own good, and Gamby-Turner was sarcasm personified. Her cool delivery during the most tense scenes was so good. The scoring by Matt Glass was weird and wonderful, with strings exuding a metal vibe and operatic vocals that punctuates the action as these somewhat despicable women descend into chaos.
If you missed 12 Hour Shift at Fantasia or other festivals, it’s now available on your favorite streaming platform.