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Fantasia Fest Review: '12 Hour Shift' is a delightfully strange comedy of errors

'12 Hour Shift' is a dark comedy swaddled in a neo-noir blanket that doesn’t feel at all like a sophomore feature.

Regina (Chloe Farnworth) inspects her prize in '12 Hour Shift'.
(Image: © 12 Hour Shift Productions)

Our Verdict

A delightfully strange neo-noir balanced with a hilarious game of cat and mouse.

For

  • ♥️ Shot with a lovely color palette.
  • ♥️ Exquisitely weird.
  • ♥️ Impressive performances from everyone in the ensemble.
  • ♥️ Surprisingly solid musical number?

Against

  • ♥️ A little slow to start.
  • ♥️ Score is a touch jarring in the early half.

Brea Grant’s 12 Hour Shift is what happens when a comedy of errors, a game of cat and mouse, and some exquisite weirdness make a film baby. It’s a dark comedy swaddled in a neo-noir blanket that doesn’t feel at all like a sophomore feature. While the first thirty minutes are a touch slow, you’ll find yourself cackling along with these characters’ odd misadventures as the story unfolds.

We follow Mandy (Angela Bettis), an embittered and drug addicted nurse who just wants to make it through her double shift without too many people annoying her. Much to her chagrin, a whole lot of folks seem pretty interested in ruining her evening. We quickly learn that Mandy and her sole friend Karen (Nikea Gamby-Turner) are running an organ smuggling racket from the hospital to make up for their less-than-impressive wages. Regrettably, the woman they’ve brought on to help move the goods, Regina (Chloe Farnworth), is not what you’d call “conventionally smart.”

Regina’s wits end up being the root of all their problems; from their extremely frustrated buyer, Nicholas (Mick Foley), all the way to Mandy’s overbearing shift lead, Janet (Brooke Seguin). Karen and Mandy’s carefully oiled organ-smuggling machine can’t compete with the proverbial wrench that is a pretty young woman trying to ensure her own kidneys don’t get chopped out for losing the first bag of haphazardly packaged entrails.

By the time the halfway mark hits, we find ourselves with several side-plots and a whole lot of players. Flirty cops who are too focused on hitting on those in their “care” to notice them cutting out organs right in front of them, a death-row inmate who tried to commit suicide in an attempt to take his destiny into his own hands, a guard, a hypochondriac, a coma patient and a man fighting cancer all play a part in this odd and intricate game. The thing is, only a few people know that they’re playing it.

Though slow to get rolling, there are plenty of proverbial chef’s kiss moments in 12 Hour Shift. There’s an unsuspected musical number mid-film that is completely out of left field and still ends up being one of the best moments in the story. David Arquette’s death-row cop-killer deserves an honorable mention, too. It’s a side-plot, but Arquette’s over-the-top portrayal and comedic timing make it a memorable one.

Leaning into the neo-noir vibes as it does, 12 Hour Shift plays with color in a way that creates beautiful shots that find themselves juxtaposed against bland hospital walls and bloody organ removals. Sometimes the score’s a little jarring, but it fades into the background once the story picks up. Furthering its technical achievements, everything’s shot in a way that only adds to the bizarre happenings going on inside the weirdly dysfunctional hospital.

There's not a bad performance in the bunch, either. Grant wrote a fun script, which is commendable on its own. She then doubled down and ended up directing a solid bunch of players in quite the enjoyable murder-romp. You can tell everyone on set is having the time of their lives portraying these weirdos. Even the extremely sweet Mick Foley eats up being a threatening jerk! In short: everyone involved should be very proud. This one's a "don't miss" kind of feature.