GORE IN THE STORE
12 HOUR SHIFT ***
Directed by Brea Grant.
Starring Angela Bettis, Chloe Farnworth, David Arquette.
Horror comedy, US, 86 minutes.
Reviewed as part of the Arrow Video FrightFest: Digital Edition.
Brea Grant makes more steps to becoming a formidable creative force in the indie horror scene. After her recent heartfelt performance in Jeremy Gardner’s AFTER MIDNIGHT she shifts her focus over to writing and directing with the medical mayhem of 12 HOUR SHIFT. Angela Bettis, already a low-key icon in the horror genre, takes centre stage as an exhausted nurse forced to endure a double shift through the night that not only involves the usual staples of looking after patients but also having to deal with redneck relatives and organ trading.
As well as having to deal with the above issues Bettis’s character Mandy also has to deal with her substance abuse problem; crushing up whatever medication is near to hand so she can snort it to get through the night. It could be that such chemical assistance impairs whatever sense of judgment she has. How else to explain why she would go into business with her cousin, by marriage only as she is always quick to explain, with the scattered but quite lethal Regina. Played with an extremely convincing American accent by English actress Farnworth, Regina, with her blonde bimbo like appearance charges headlong into any situation with no regards to the consequences. Whether it is trading organs with the local low rent organised crime family, led by an underused Mick Foley, or donning scrubs in a poorly thought out attempt to protect her own skin. An act that only leads to more blood-soaked complications much to the anger of Mandy.
After neatly setting up her storyline Grant soon stuffs the film with even more characters and situations. Some of which are dealt with more satisfyingly than others. Patients arrive as soon as others are shuffled off this mortal coil, including an also underused David Arquette as a murderous prisoner needing treatment. Grant’s direction keeps events moving along at a speedy pace but her script has more characters than it knows what to do with at times. This sometimes leads to a lack of focus as characters come and go while Mandy’s attachment and seemingly out of place sympathy for one patient is perhaps too hurriedly explained away at too late a point in the film for the audience to properly get to grips with.
These issues aside there is a lot to enjoy here and more that promises Grant to have just as interesting a career behind the camera as she has had in front of it. She knows how to keep the story moving along with its multiple moving parts and manages to get convincing and funny performances from her cast. Bettis, despite her questionable behaviour effortlessly gets the audience onside with her downtrodden heroine whilst in complete contrast Farnworth’s wide eyed and excitably homicidal cousin shows a keen aptitude for comedy.
Working with a low budget and limited locations Grant has delivered a horror comedy that has plenty to say about the state of the American healthcare system as well as delivering a bloody and over the top horror with shades of crime and family drama thrown in as well. Coming in at under an hour and a half she makes sure to get as much on the screen as it is possible to do so with the resources at hand. With a little more focus on the script in the future the results could be even more wildly entertaining and hopefully just as bloody.