Jason Blum is the horror guru whose production company, Blumhouse, has helped create massive hits like Paranormal Activity and Get Out. As the latter is released on DVD and Blu-ray, NME spoke to him about horror in 2017, the humour and social messages within the film, and his plans for a Halloween reboot.
It seems like a really good time for horror with Get Out, Raw, Stephen King’s It. Is it a golden age for horror at the moment?
“Horror has been one constant through cinema history, people like to go to the movies to be scared, so it’s a good healthy part of the theatrical business which is not so healthy.”
What about the way horror is playing into modern concerns and fears?
“John Carpenter had a lot to do with putting social messages into genre movies. To a certain degree we laid the groundwork with The Purge for Get Out. The Purge is really about America’s crazy relationship to guns and guns gone wild, essentially, and it kind of laid the groundwork for Get Out. Not all our movies have a social message but I love the ones that do and I’d love to do more of them.”
Parts of Get Out are really funny – is that a line you like to tread, between comedy and horror?
“I’m not interested in making horror-comedies, but I’m very interested in making scary movies with funny parts. Insidious – Specs and Tucker are like a comedy duo, in the middle of this very scary supernatural movie. Paranormal Activity 3 has as many laughs as it does scares, and I think Get Out.. it’s more scary than funny but there’s a lot of funny stuff in it and what I think is that the genre moments play much better when you have an audience laugh: they kind of relax, and then when a genre element comes in it’s more effective because you’re not ready for it. So the comedy keeps the audience off guard. We don’t have it in all of our movies, but most successful scary movies have a good amount of funny things in them too.”
Blumhouse Productions is known for making successful horror movies on a small budget. What things in Get Out were particularly expensive or particularly cheap?
“The party scene was very expensive and we cut it down a lot: it was written much bigger than you’ve seen in the movie. One thing that was inexpensive was most of the movie takes place in one house, and if you notice, most Blumhouse movies mostly take place in a house. That’s for two reasons. The first reason a practical reason – because it’s cheap. The second reason is that’s where you feel most vulnerable. And the best place to be scared is in your own home. So those two things work very well to the fact that we do a lot of low-budget movies.”
Could there be a sequel to Get Out?
“I can’t imagine what the sequel to Get Out would be. I would never make a sequel unless [writer/director] Jordan [Peele] wanted to do one. He’s dabbled with a couple of ideas but it’s entirely up to him, if he wanted to do one I would do it in a second, but I’d never push him to do one, I’d never have anyone else do one, I really feel in my gut there’s like a cousin to Get Out more than a sequel but we’ll see.”
What did you make of Samuel L Jackson’s comments about Daniel Kaluuya’s casting?
“He was upset because Daniel’s English, not American? I think they made up though. I think Sam Jackson’s entitled to his point of view. Everyone’s trying to do the best they can and he’s certainly entitled to his point of view. I don’t agree with it, but he’s entitled to it.”
You’re involved in Halloween. Is that a sequel to Halloween 2?
“Halloween is kind of a reboot but we’re looking at a reboot of the first movie as opposed to a sequel. I didn’t want to do Halloween unless John Carpenter was involved so i went to the rights holders and said I really wanted to do Halloween but i don’t want to do it unless we have John Carpenter. They said: ‘you’re not going to get John Carpenter’. I said ‘Let me give it a shot’. So I met John Carpenter and we had a very quick meeting – 15 minutes – but he agreed to executive produce it and when he agreed I thought it would be a great thing to do, so hopefully we won’t disappoint with the movie. I can reveal nothing about Halloween except I promise it’ll be good.”