How quickly we pivot from honoring our frontline workers. In the exploitation splatter comedy “12 Hour Shift,” two nurses manage an organ-trafficking network out of their Arkansas hospital. The drug-addled Mandy (Angela Bettis), who takes her orders from Karen (Nikea Gamby-Turner), brings fresh harvests to the soda machine just outside the building’s doors. From there, Regina (Chloe Farnworth), who harbors a misapprehension that she’s Mandy’s cousin, is supposed to shuttle organs in a picnic cooler to their destination.
But Regina is not the sharpest scalpel in the operating room, and it’s only after a comically drawn-out pit stop for cheese puffs that she learns that she forgot to grab the latest biohazard bag. Her boss (the wrestler Mick Foley) informs her if she doesn’t get him a kidney, he’ll take one from her.
What was already a night from hell becomes a madcap odyssey to procure a replacement. Among the evening’s enjoyably interlocking complications, Regina disguises herself as a nurse and tries her own hand at murder and nephrectomy — despite having an imperfect grasp of which patients’ kidneys are functional, and of exactly where in the body kidneys are located.
Written and directed by the actress Brea Grant, “12 Hour Shift” has roughly two good jokes for every third that comes across as overdetermined (an unexpected musical number) or self-amused. (The effeminate hypochondriac would have been offensive even in 1999, when the movie is set.) But it’s hard to argue with Bettis’s frazzled underplaying or Farnworth’s stellar airhead routine, an impressively sustained study in quick-witted dimwittedness.
12 Hour Shift
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 26 minutes. In theaters and available to rent or buy on iTunes, Google Play and other streaming platforms and pay TV operators. Please consult the guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before watching movies inside theaters.