dir. Brea Grant.
Nurse Mandy (Angela Bettis) is having a bad day: as well as working a double at the local hospital, her cousin Regina (Chloe Farnworth) has just started her new job as the go-between in an organ trafficking ring, supplying fresh guts to some local gangsters. So when Regina misplaces a kidney that Mandy supplied it falls on her to find a new one, stat.
Brea Grant’s sophomore outing is the kind of dark, acerbic comedy which has zero problem in making everyone unlikeable. Although ostensibly the protagonist, Mandy makes no bones about her proclivity to kill off vulnerable patients in order to harvest their innards, and by doing so make the pay dirt necessary to fuel her drug habit. Although she follows something of a code – killing those with no family; sparing those she likes – Grant’s script is sharp and angular, keeping audience sympathies off-kilter in favour of a plot which is built – and starts to collapse – like a particularly bloody house of cards.
Indeed things get pretty complicated, pretty quick. In addition to Regina’s lost kidney there’s a convicted murderer (David Arquette) admitted after a suicide attempt, a dim-witted but well-meaning cop and the muscle for the local gang boss all closing in. Add to this that Regina decides she’d better take things into her own hands with some DIY surgery, and Mandy’s well concealed operation really starts to unravel.
An actress with a track record in genre (including, notably, Dexter), Grant shows herself to be adept at juggling an increasingly complex roster of characters, offering delicious set pieces in which her performers can showcase their talents (one moment in a morgue is particularly well played). There is however a mean-spiritedness throughout, where the lack of any anchor for audience empathy ultimately lowers the stakes. For those willing to spend time in such repellent company though this is a well-structured farce, red and slick.
12 HOUR SHIFT has it’s Northern UK Premiere at Grimmfest 2020 Online Edition on 7th October 2020.