Night Shift Poster

Night Shift (2023) Review

Up until recently I worked the night shift in a hotel, so I know how creepy it can feel at times, especially when you’re getting used to the place with all of the building’s odd little noises and quirks. That’s the position Gwen (Phoebe Tonkin, Transfusion, The Foxes of Hydesville) finds herself in.

Recently moved into the area and in need of money, she’s answered an ad for a temporary overnight position at the All Tucked Inn. The owner Teddy (Lamorne Morris, The Disappearance of Toby Blackwood, Death of a Telemarketer), who seems to be making his story up as he goes along, tells her the woman who regularly does the job has been sidelined with medical issues. He’d love to stay and help, but he has a date. But there’s nothing to worry about, this is a quiet, peaceful place where nothing ever happens.

Night Shift 3

That rapidly begins to change as a black car begins making frequent, slow drives through the parking lot, the phone rings supposedly with a call from the empty Cabin 13, and a news broadcast informs us that Walton Grey (Christopher Denham, Bad Country, Oppenheimer), the man who murdered her mother and sister, has escaped from prison. And then she starts to see what look like ghosts on the security monitors.

Benjamin and Paul China, billed as The China Brothers, make their directorial debut with Night Shift after having co-written the crime thriller Sweet Virginia. Here they do a good job of quickly establishing a creepy atmosphere, even if some of it is telegraphed well in advance.

As soon as Teddy mentions the supply room door can only be opened from the outside, you know Gwen will end up trapped in there. Which she does along with the hotel’s only guest, a teen runaway named Alice (Madison Hu, Bizaardvark, The Boogeyman). Want to bet the same holds true for the fire axe Teddy mentions will come into play? Or the sinkhole that opened up under the pool?

Night Shift 1

Despite that and a lack of big, overt scares, Night Shift does a great job of keeping the viewer wound up for the film’s first hour. Then at the hour mark, The China Brothers put a twist in the script that, while startling, comes out of nowhere and will have at least some of those watching crying foul.

While I do think the way that the filmmakers set this up is a cheat, it doesn’t ruin the film. Night Shift has an effective final act, but it’s not on the level of what comes before it. The first hour benefited from multiple levels of potential threat, while the final act is much more straightforward and lead to an ending and epilogue that will feel a bit too familiar.

Night Shift 8

However, for a one location film with a very small cast. An obnoxious drunken couple Birdie (Lauren Bowles, Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon, George of the Jungle) and Warner (Patrick Fischler, The Standoff at Sparrow Creek, The Diabolical) turn up but unfortunately their role in the plot doesn’t live up to their inflammatory entrance. Most of the film relies on Phoebe Tonkin, with occasional help from Madison Hu to carry it, and they both give fine performances.

Behind the camera, cinematographer Mac Fisken (The Last Stop in Yuma County, Play Dead) deserves credit for helping create the film’s atmosphere and make the decrepit hotel look as though it hides bigger threats than rats and roaches. Blitz//Berlin (The Void, Witch Hunt) provide a score that nicely compliments the on-screen action. Overall, Night Shift is a solid film that, with a bit better writing, could have been an exceptional one.

Night Shift is currently playing in selected theatres as well as Digital and VOD Platforms via Quiver Distribution.

YouTube video
Where to watch Night Shift
Our Score
Scroll to Top