Offerings (experimental short, 2018)
An exercise in ambient horror, Offerings chronicles the rituals of a mysterious cult and the spaces they inhabit. Non-narrative and highly textured, the film functions as a distillation of folk horror imagery and expressionist filmmaking techniques. Largely inspired by underground album artwork and xeroxed gig posters, the costumed creatures found in Offerings function largely as black metal album illustration brought to hulking, lumbering life. A visual and aural assault, Offerings seeks to hypnotize and indoctrinate its audience into its fever dream nightmarescape.
After years spent on a single narrative-driven feature film, I wanted to take a step back and focus my energy on creating a film that functioned wholly as a piece of atmosphere. Over the course of production on my previous feature 3 Dead Trick or Treaters, I became interested with experimental and expanded cinema performances, ranging from non-narrative artist cinema to full-fledged installation projects. Offerings is a coagulation of several ongoing creative obsessions, including primitive pagan costuming, hastily photocopied gig posters, dark ambient music and the anarchic attitude of the underground film community.
Functioning as director, cinematographer, production designer, costumer and editor, I took great care to add as much texture as possible through each step of production. Costumes were designed with bent twigs, high-contrast paint jobs and layered garments. Environments were carefully selected for their decay and visual noise, from chiseled stone to peeling paint. Although Offerings was shot digitally, I designed my own form of bespoke film grain and photo emulsion, including several sheets of scanned photocopier ink, digital grain and pages of crude watercolor streaking. The end result, combined with speed ramping and extensive digital filtering, leaves the final image landing somewhere between a damaged 16mm print and a DIY punk zine. The decision to make the film triptych was to amplify its texture, overwhelming the audience to the point of hypnosis.
In addition to festival screenings, my goal is for Offerings to participate in the underground arts community in multiple capacities. The film premiered at the Nightmares Film Festival with live in-theater soundtrack, and took the form of a collaborative A/V installation at the Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival. It is a versatile work that I hope to project wherever possible, from formal festival screenings to concerts and underground guerrilla presentations. The parallels between independent film and music are growing exponentially, and as the struggle to have work seen becomes a greater challenge, all platforms become valid. Offerings embraces a DIY punk ethos, both in production and distribution, and the tour is just beginning.
Cast & Crew
Directed and designed by Torin Langen
Produced by Andrew Smart and Torin Langen
Starring Mike McCarville, Sarah Marie Pugsley and Andrew Smart
Featuring Eric Repke and Paul Orville
Original score by Russell Jennison
Behind the Scenes
Extensive making-of documentation can be found here, courtesy of Andrew Smart
Festivals & Screenings
Official Selection, Istanbul International Experimental Film Festival (Istanbul, Turkey)
Winner, Best Form & Editing, Portland Unknown Film Festival (Portland, OR)
Covenant Festival (Vancouver, BC)
Official Selection, Bogotá Experimental Film Festival / CineAutopsia (Bogotá, Columbia)
Official Selection, Pugnant Film Series (Athens, Greece)
Thunder & Lightning (Sackville, NB)
Winner, Best Recurring Nightmare, Nightmares Film Festival (Columbus, OH)
Official Selection, Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival (Toronto, ON)
The Registry Theatre (Kitchener, ON)