★★.5 out of ★★★★★
Directed by Daniel McLeod.
Regicide is one of those awesome $5 dollar SAT words. You’d swear you know what it means, but always end up have to look it up online. We’ll save you they trouble. Regicide is the killing of a monarch or king. In the case of 2022’s uber-indy flick Regicide, this kind of makes sense, but it takes the film an awfully long time to find the metaphor.
Regicide, cobbled together by Canadian director Daniel McLeod, is a fascinating little story tucked somewhere in between Night of the Living Dead and The Thing. Borrowing heavily from the basic location construct behind Night of the Living Dead, the entire film takes place in/around a heavily dilapidated farm house. McLeod, like Romero, opts for a nervy location and ensures his cast is uncomfortably cramped in the confines of the farm house.
The purposely limited cast follows Kaleb (Michael Masurkevitch) a grade-A jerk whose agrarian dreams are quickly being dashed, and his cool-headed girlfriend Sandra (Ashley Sametz) who is looking to get out of urban farming and back to the city. Kaleb criticizes, hollers, complains, and demeans Sandra. However, she’s not having any of her insecure partner’s ranting and raving. She holds firm and clearly establishes herself as the centerpiece of the film.
As the couple prepares to move from the farm house they’re joined by their friends Daniel (Steve Kasan) and Ruth (Esther Rogers). No friend really wants to pack up a farm house and help haul a bunch of garbage to a new location, and a friend certainly doesn’t want to do this under the duress of the tyrannical Kaleb. Sandra’s not the only one to catch Kaleb’s ire as he also barks at Ruth and Daniel in equal measures.
As the group prepares to leave the farm house for the big city they quickly discover that their phones aren’t functioning, nor are their cars. Car won’t start/phone won’t work — two great tropes in one! To make matters worse Ruth and Sandra start to see strange figures looming in the fields as Daniel wanders off for help.
Regicide, much like its progenitor Night of the Living Dead, makes it very clear that this one-room play is all going to take place from inside the farm house. There’s no escape from this crusty shell and the people that are approaching just might not be who they seem — and they’re definitely NOT zombies.
Much of the film is built around Kaleb and Sandra’s dysfunctional relationship and their toxic battles for the control of their collective futures. It’s clear Kaleb considers himself the alpha, or in this case, the king of his castle, but it’s really Sandra’s (mostly) level-headed approach to reality that keeps everything moving in the right direction.
Regicide is definitely indy and it shows. At points it appears as if it’s a horror short film that’s gone on too long, and at other points its indy credentials begin to painfully show. An earnest film to be sure, but one that really lives and breathes around Sandra’s key performance. Frankly the remainder of the actors fall into two camps 1) I’m ACTING!, and/or 2) I don’t really know what I’m doing, but this sure sounded like fun weekend at the farm. In any case, this shoe-string production makes it over the finish line with aplomb.
Daniel McLeod and the entire crew should be applauded for pulling off this pretty decent little horror thriller. We’re hopeful that Mcleod’s day job in corporate video work affords him the opportunity for another crack at cool genre fare.
Regicide is currently at the Another Hole in the Head Film Festival. Look for it on streaming platforms soon!