Over the past few years there has been a resurgence of modest budget horror flicks that rely more on subtle scares as opposed to guts and gore. Movies that focus less on the red stuff and more on suspense with a well-placed jump scare or two thrown in for good measure – hey, sometimes they work. With the first few PARANORMAL ACTIVITY movies and the INSIDIOUS franchise we have been seeing a new breed of horror. Not only were the films making money, critics as well as audiences were responding. Much of this led to one name that has become synonymous with a new – and oftentimes smarter – brand of horror. That name is Jason Blum and Blumhouse Productions.
Aside from genre pics, Blum has a pretty damned impressive resume. The list includes films like KICKING AND SCREAMING where he served as an associate producer, as well as executive producer on THE READER which earned Kate Winslet an Academy Award for her flawless performance. However, Blum assuredly has an attraction to scary movies including the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY franchise. He was involved from the first film on up and whether you are a fan or not, people still dig these demonic haunting found footage features. Of course after five films, the business of PA is starting to wear thin, yet considering the cost it was a smart move that most certainly paid off for everyone involved.
The world of the supernatural must make Mr. Blum feel right at home as he has had a number of successful films over the past few years that focus on demons and ghosts. Working with the very talented James Wan (SAW, THE CONJURING), both of the INSIDIOUS flicks have managed to terrify audiences even with their PG-13 rating. In fact, INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 2 has made around 161 million dollars worldwide. While that may not sound like a whole heck of a lot compared to most blockbusters, the 5 million production cost proves that there is money to be made. Critically the film took a slight beating, yet it was clear that audiences from all over are more than ready for another trip into “the Further” with INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 3 heading our way.
Not shying away from the spooky shenanigans of the unknown, Blum had another hit with SINISTER back in 2012. This Ethan Hawke starring chiller scared up a decent 63% on Rotten Tomatoes and once again, audiences were transfixed by another modestly budgeted thriller. A year later, he produced another Ethan Hawke flick with the surprise hit THE PURGE. While this non-supernatural shocker didn’t quite work on my scare scale, it proved once again that you can create a ton of excitement in horror while not spending a ton of dough. And with the incredibly talented Frank Grillo in the mix, here is hoping the soon to be released THE PURGE: ANARCHY will put a little fear in our hearts.
Jason Blum has managed to give a ton of cred to the art of low budget horror movies. By attracting a strong cast and (oftentimes) a decent script, he has raised the bar when it comes to modern horror. Recently when I took in the new film from Mike Flanagan entitled OCULUS I was a little nervous when the WWF logo popped up. Yet somehow the credit of Blumhouse balanced it out and happily I think this may be one of the best Blumhouse Productions to date. This tale of a haunted mirror is a smartly crafted feature film that offers up a number of impressive performances and a uniquely startling story. With this and possibly the upcoming CREEP, AREA 51, OUIJA and so much more, it seems that as a producer Jason is paying very close attention to the genre films he backs.
Maybe it’s the booze talkin’, but is Blumhouse Productions keeping horror respectable? Generally speaking the fright flicks Blum is involved in are able to earn a decent critical reception as well as an impressive box office earner. This week features another smart move for Blum with the disturbingly haunting OCULUS. While we have yet to see what how well it will fare dollar wise, strong word of mouth should give the film a commendable opening weekend. Nowadays, Jason Blum has become a major draw for horror fans everywhere and judging from the 44 films in-development according to his IMDB page, we are sure to be seeing his name embedded in our beloved genre – as well as a few other genres – for the next few years to come.