Exclusive: Jason Blum talks The Lazarus Effect, Paranormal Activity and more

Last Updated on September 22, 2021

When I spoke to Jason Blum the other day, he was getting ready for a well-deserved vacation. It has been a busy few weeks for the producer, whose movie WHIPLASH won three Oscars Sunday night after being nominated for five (including a Best Picture nomination for Blum himself). Add to that he’s been doing a lot of press for THE LAZARUS EFFECT, the latest micro-budget horror film from Blumhouse Productions, about a team of scientists who bring one of their colleagues back from the dead… with typically haunting results. The film opens on February 27th and figures to make its budget back in about three days – such is the Blumhouse model.

You can rest assured that the vacation won’t stop Blum’s machine from running; a quick glance at his IMDb page suggests he has about 40 movies in various stages of development at the moment. Now, we know never to trust IMDb too implicitly, but in Blum’s case it’s hard to argue with what the site’s telling us. As Arrow in the Head’s senior news editor, I can tell you that I write about a new Blumhouse movie seemingly once a week – if the producer isn’t the busiest man in showbiz, I don’t know who is. Among the titles on the horizon: PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE GHOST DIMENSION, SINISTER 2, INSIDIOUS 3, THE PURGE 3, UNFRIENDED, Akiva Goldsman’s STEPHANIE… That’s just a sample.

In the below interview, Blum and I talk about bringing THE LAZARUS EFFECT together, the status of the aforementioned horror titles (including AMITYVILLE: THE AWAKENING, which pulled a disappearing act after being scheduled for a January release), his favorite horror movies and if he’d be interested in tackling a major existing horror franchise. (Blumhouse presents NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET?)

You must’ve had a crazy week, how are you doing?

Blum: Very busy, but I’m actually at the airport getting ready to go on vacation, so I’m happy.

Congrats on the Whiplash wins, that must have been so cool.

Blum: So cool! Yeah, I was so psyched about that.

So I feel like Blumhouse’s relationship to every one of the movies it distributes is unique, so how early were you involved with THE LAZARUS EFFECT?

Blum: This one we were involved pretty early on. The script came to us with the director [David Gelb] and Lionsgate actually gave it to us to produce. We were the hands-on producers, we helped cast it and were kind of involved from the beginning.

David Gelb was a very unique choice for this, as his previous movie Jiro Dreams of Sushi couldn’t be more different. What made him interested in this kind of project?

Blum: We didn’t chose him and I wouldn’t have chosen him, but I’m very glad he did the movie because he did a great job. It initially did not make any sense to me why he was making the movie. He does have a trailer company that knows how to cut a scare, etc. But we talked about it for a long time, and what really impressed me was, he had meetings with Mark Duplass and Olivia Wilde separately, and both of them came out of meeting with him and committed to doing the movie. That gave me a lot of confidence in him, because that’s a good litmus test, a good indication he knew what he was doing. I really want to work with him again.

What made people like Mark Duplass and Olivia Wilde right for their roles? You don’t see either of them in movies like this often.

Blum: I love working with actors who aren’t necessarily associated with the scary movie genre. I don’t make that a rule, but I really like it, like Ethan Hawke in Sinister had never really done a horror movie. So when Mark and Olivia’s names came up, I was psyched. I think it was our casting director who came to those two people. When they said yes to the movie, that’s what really jumpstarted it for me.

When I read about this for the first time, it was called Reawakening and was at Lionsgate.

Blum: We made the movie together and their slate got really full. You never know when you’re going to end up with no movies or a lot of movies, so they allowed me to show it to other distributors. I showed it to Relativity and got them excited about it. But Lionsgate financed it and still has international on it, Relativity has domestic.

I know you don’t go into any movie thinking sequel, you told me that yourself, but LAZARUS clearly opens the door to another installment. Is a sequel something you’ve considered?

Blum: I would love to make a sequel if the movie does really well. I think the mythology is super rich and I think her [Wilde’s] character is kind of amazing. I would love to make a sequel if it’s a big hit. It’s not only up to me, but I’d vote yes.

You deal in the supernatural so much, I’m curious: do notions of life-after-death or the spirit world actually appeal to you, do you believe in it?

Blum: It really appeals to me. I don’t believe in it, but I love telling stories about it and I love scaring people. It was like on Ouija, people would say, “I don’t believe in it, I don’t believe in it… but I would never use one.” I think that’s hilarious. I love, love, love telling stories about all of these things, but personally, do I believe in them? Probably not.

That might come back to bite you one day.

Blum: It’s true!

Is there a scary movie that you point to as your all-time favorite?

They’re not traditional horror movies, but the movies that got me interested in scaring people were Hitchcock movies. I really loved Rebecca, I love The Birds, I love most of the movies he made. He’s kind of closer to thriller as opposed to horror, but I really love and admire him and his films. He’s my favorite scary movie director.

Your IMDb page says you have about one hundred movies in production-

Blum: Oh god.

Do you ever look at it and say, “Where did these come from?”

Blum: I looked at it recently because someone said that. There’s a lot on there that I wish I were producing but I’m not. [Laughs]

Focusing on movies you have coming up, the big one of course is the new Paranormal Activity film. I know you have a release date, but it’s also been pushed back a couple of times – has this been a particularly difficult entry to get started?

Blum: Well, we have a lot before that. We have Unfriended, we have Insidious 3, which I’m super excited about, we have Sinister 2, and we have M. Night’s movie, he made a really scary thriller.

Every one of the Paranormals is difficult, really hard to make. Found footage is tough, it’s more difficult to have a found footage movie that’s actually good as opposed to a traditional movie. Whenever someone comes to me and asks if they should make a found footage movie or a traditional one, I say if you don’t have to do it found footage, don’t. We had the luxury this time around of not having to hit a date. It’s done and we’re in post, but we’re tinkering with it and continue to make it better and better.

And this one is a continuation of both Paranormal Activity 4 and The Marked Ones?

Blum: It’s a continuation of the mythology around Paranormal, which exists in Marked Ones too. I think I’ve said this before, but this one answers a lot of questions people have about a lot of the movies, they will find a lot of answers in the next Paranormal Activity.

Is this the last one?

Blum: I have no idea. [Laughs] That’s open for discussion.

Last week a new Blumhouse movie was announced with Harold Zwart directing. It was described as a “family horror film,” what can you tell me about it?

Blum: Ben Garant wrote it, we love working with him, we have two or three more movies in development with him. I always want to do scary movies and TV shows, but if we’re to expand and make the business a little bigger I want to do it not by having bigger budgets – which is what most people do – but different genres. We had The Boy Next Door which was an erotic thriller, we have Jem and the Holograms coming out in October, which is very different. There’s a western with Ti West… Now we’re trying to do a scary movie for a family.

Is it along the lines of the Spielberg-produced movies of the 80s?

Blum: Yeah, exactly. Maybe a little softer than that, but that’s the idea.

One movie everyone’s curious about it Amityville: The Awakening – it looked like it was all ready to go and then it got pulled from the release schedule suddenly. Can you say what the status is on that?

Blum:We’re still in post on it. I’m very, very happy with it. We’re continuing to have conversations with Dimension and Weinstein about how it’s going to come out, but it’s definitely going to come out. I think people are going to like it, Jennifer Jason Leigh is great in the movie. I’m hoping to do another movie with Franck. I’m really pleased with it, my guess is we’ll announce when it’ll come out sometime in the next twelve months.

Have you had any conflicts with The Weinstein Company over the cut?

Blum: Like a lot of the movies that we do, we’re just tinkering with it and trying to make it better. We’re pretty close now. We went back and forth over the cut of the movie, which we’re happy with now. We’re just tinkering with the movie in post-production.

Are you going to move ahead on OCULUS 2? That’s another one that has gained a lot of popularity, especially since it’s been on Netflix.

Blum: I don’t know, you have to ask Mike Flanagan that question. [Laughs]

Here’s a theoretical question. Friday the 13th, Halloween, Nightmare on Elm St, all those big horror franchises are at different studios, but would you have interest in getting your hands on one of them and doing your thing?

Blum: Yeah, I’d love to. That’s kind of what Amityville was, and I’d love to try it again. I’d be very psyched to do one of those movies.

Is there one in particular you want to produce?

Yes there is, but I’m not going to tell you which one. [Laughs]

What’s another project that you’re in development on that you’re really excited about?

Blum: I’m really psyched about Akiva’s [Goldsman] movie. I’ve known him for a long time and I’m excited we’re working together. I think he’s one of the most talented people in Hollywoodland, so I’m excited about Stephanie.

What about the film that stars Jason Bateman and Joel Edgerton?

Blum: Yeah, we wrapped that. I haven’t seen anything cut together but I’ve seen dailies and it looks great. Production went really smoothly, Joel is really great to work with, I’m excited to work with him again. That movie could be super cool.

Is The Purge 3 going into production soon?

Blum: Yes it is. We have a release date.

How many of the same people are returning?

Blum: I can’t tell you that, but we’re going into production this year. [Laughs]

I really appreciate your time, enjoy your vacation.

Blum: Absolutely, thank you.

THE LAZARUS EFFECT official trailer

Source: Arrow in the Head

About the Author

Eric Walkuski is a longtime writer, critic, and reporter for JoBlo.com. He's been a contributor for over 15 years, having written dozens of reviews and hundreds of news articles for the site. In addition, he's conducted almost 100 interviews as JoBlo's New York correspondent.