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Matt Glass/Magnet Releasing

MOVIE REVIEW
12 Hour Shift (2020)

In “12 Hour Shift,” Angela Bettis plays Mandy, a surly small-town Arkansas hospital nurse with a drug habit who moonlights as a supplier in the organ black market. The plot of course centers on her worst day ever, when everything that could possibly go wrong indeed does. Stuck with a double shift, Mandy tasks her stereotypically dumb blonde cousin Regina (Chloe Farnworth) with transporting a kidney to a garage where unlicensed transplants are performed. Regina of courses loses the kidney, and must replace it or surrender one of her own to the menacing criminals.

Typical fare for small to midsize film festivals, “12 Hour Shift” is no more than a throwaway low-budget indie effort destined for cable TV or streaming. Its insistence that nuisance equals quirkiness aside, it lacks an identifiable protagonist with whom viewers can empathize. That is, unless you are a psychopath and you’re in it just for the blood and guts.

Even with so-called “torture porn,” the audience is most often compelled to root for the doomed to find a way out of the set pieces. Using that analogy, “12 Hour Shift” is torture porn with only money shots and zero foreplay. Characters exist solely to facilitate fake blood splattering at regular intervals. The fact that it has a female writer-director, Brea Grant, seems to be a justification used by programmers for its inclusion at festivals, but this movie is about as feminist as the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

The coronavirus pandemic has thrown a wrench in the film’s tour on the festival circuit, with its world premiere taking place virtually via the Tribeca Film Festival. Moreover, it’s doubtful anyone will turn to this kind of nonsense for escapism.

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