The horror-comedy fusion is more often than not a recipe for disaster. As the dark, black tones carried by the subject matter of horror and the white, lighthearted innocence of comedy collide, the end result is usually a washed-out dull, grey mess. However, in a refreshing turn of events, 12 Hour Shift is fast, gory, fun, and full of genuinely funny moments.
Writer and director, Brea Grant (Eastsiders, Megan), keeps a perfect balance of horror and comedy throughout, giving each equal shrift. While the horror element of 12 Hour Shift is heavily focused on gore rather than actual scares; it is carried out in a way that perfectly gels with the cheeky, tongue-in-cheek humor; a certain breed of humor that isn’t afraid to make fun of itself.
Drug-addicted nurse and her hapless cousin, Mandy and Regina (Angela Bettis, Chloe Farnworth) have to find a spare kidney after bumbling bimbo Regina manages to lose one. that was due to be sold on the black market. After being told her life depends on finding a replacement, Regina teams up with Mandy as they seek out an unwilling donor. However, their search fast turns into a comedy of errors as chaotic hilarity ensues.
12 Hour Shift is Surprisingly Brilliant
When I set out to watch 12 Hour Shift, I did so with an inward groan. I have never been a fan of horror-comedies in the past. With very few movies of the genre fusion to have left a lasting impression on me (one being the 1992 classic, Brain Dead); I was convinced that I was in store for 90 minutes of dull comedy, wooden acting and a mind-numbing narrative. However, within the first 20 minutes, I knew I was wrong.
As much as the plot sounds as thin as cheap toilet paper, it does allow for some clever twists and turns. Without giving too much away, by the end of the movie, there’s a lot going on. Without going overboard on neither horror nor comedy, Grant perfectly blends the two genres in a way that works. Like a fine chef, she uses the precise balance of ingredients in her remarkably palatable genre soup.
After I eventually established that Chloe Farnworth (Pentagram, In Circles and Macbeth) wasn’t My Name is Earl actress Jaime Pressly, I found myself becoming irritated by the imitation Texas drawl; I first fought this to be over-acting. However, I fast learned this to be just a brilliant portrayal of her character, the genre standard airheaded blonde, Regina.
With the same prowess Grant used in the delicate mixing of the genres, Mandy is introduced into the production to level-out the proverbial playing field. Mandy, played by Angela Bettis (House and Dexter), brought to the table, a grounded, level-headed element; aside from her penchant for stolen morphine, of course). Notably, Bettis’ role in 12 Hour Shift saw her as a nominee for the Best Actress award at the Critic’s Choice Super Awards in 2020.
Furthermore, my inner child was delighted to see ‘90s wrestling legend, Mick Foley, step into the shoes of black-market organ dealer, Nicholas. David Arquette (Scream 1, 2 and 3) was also a much-welcomed surprise as we see him playing convicted murderer, Jefferson.
12 Hour Shift really surprised me and I’m glad I never cast it from my ‘to-watch’ list as I had planned. It does, however, display a clear lack of budget (they probably spent it all on the talent). The effects aren’t the greatest you will ever see, nor are the scares going to scare you. However, scaring isn’t the intention of 12 Hour Shift. Instead, they rely on some superb acting, twisting plotlines, and lashings of clever writing. And when has that ever been a bad thing?
Don’t let the cheap veneer put you off; 12 Hour Shift is a true gem.