SXSW was cancelled this year, but that did not stop the festival from recognizing standout films. Regret, written and directed by Santiago Menghini, won the Jury award for the Midnight Shorts category. Simple yet absolutely terrifying, Regret is an eerie tale about suppression and grief.
Regret is a short film about a man whose father has just passed away. He finds himself not only haunted by memories and unresolved feelings, but there is also something stalking him in his hotel room. Brent Skagford plays Wayne, a man who is conflicted about his feelings regarding his father’s death. Skagford is excellent in the role. His expressions reflect sadness and sheer terror and yet there is also a matter of factness to him. Skagford brings out a businesslike exterior in the character that shows how his logical world is torn apart.
Menghini’s direction orchestrates the horror dynamics of this short film. The film opens with lonely streets and panning shots of high rises against a lonely sky. Through phone calls we learn Wayne is not processing his grief and he is suppressing his emotions. The loneliness of his state is amplified as he sits in a spacious hotel room with empty corridors. A lot of subtle touches make this an excellent example of building up to the horror. There is a quiet terror that sets the tone. The night is already gloomy and the father’s death already casts a macabre specter, so a phone ringing at 3 AM. heightens the feeling of unease. Lights, without any effect, go off. Each shot of the creature becomes scarier with each glimpse and angle of it. Menghini uses mood and a lot of mystery to tell an effective horror story in the short structure.
Regret is a wonderfully scary film short, deserving of its Jury award. Great acting and brilliant directing and storytelling make this one of the must sees films of SXSW.
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