Now here is one dark premise – a nurse who funds her drug addiction by killing her patients and selling their organs. Some may see this as a nod to the organ theft legend of the 1990s, while others may recall the numerous ‘Angel of Death’ cases. Either way, there is always comedy to be found in the darkest of subjects.
The nurse in question is Mandy (Angela Bettis), a misanthrope who lives for smoke breaks and crushed opiates. Bettis does good work here, lending her character a disdainful crabbiness, especially when confronted by her peers’ intrusive small talk. Mandy bides her time until the small hours, when she can continue her lucrative organ trafficking. However, things go awry when she recruits Regina (Chloe Farnworth), her idiotic cousin, to act as a delivery driver.
This is ripe ground for all manner of neo-noir nastiness. Think Killer Joe meets Nurse Betty – a real deep-fried, messed-up Arkansas horror story. However, it soon becomes clear that 12 Hour Shift is a much frothier affair, one that’s preoccupied with goofy caricatures rather than transgressive humour.
Regina’s character sets the tone for the script’s level of sophistication. She is the proverbial dumb blonde, so dumb that she asks how many kidneys a human body has. Tumbleweed. Later, we see a totally zany paramedic dance through a corridor despite the very obvious chaos that surrounds him. Tumbleweed. Worst of all, though, is Officer Myers (Kit Williamson), the bumbling cop assigned to investigate. His character is there to indulge this trend of cringe comedy that has swept through film and TV. You will have seen it somewhere. It’s the character who awkwardly interrupts themselves as they make gaffe after gaffe, shrinking with poorly acted embarrassment as they slink out the door. It’s a tiresome hijacking of the Gervais school of comedy.
You’d expect there to be some gory relief to this montage of eye roll comedy. After all, this is a film of needles, scalpels and the gross misuse of bleach. However, outside of a nasty throat injury caused by said bleach, we get little more than blood spurting from off-screen bodies. A student from Tom Savini’s FX School could have turned this around, although they couldn’t have done anything about that cheap, overbearing score.
There are two cameos that offer some passing curiosity. The first is WWE legend Mick Foley, who appears for roughly 120 seconds as Nicholas, a chop shop scumbag who wants his trafficked organs right now. Second is producer David Arquette, whose turn as an injured felon is shoehorned for the star power, as his character serves no real purpose to the narrative.