the founder and Ceo of Blumhouse Productions earned his title as “the new master of horror” with low-budget blockbusters, like The Purge, Insidious and Paranormal Activity, as well as 2017’s game-changing, Oscar-nominated Get Out, written and directed by Jordan Peele. Made for less than $5 million, it went on to gross over $250 million worldwide. “When I read the script, I thought, My God, I’ve never read anything like this, and I love it,” says Jason Blum. “That’s why we keep our budgets so low, so we can take risks on movies like Get Out. But I certainly never thought we would get a best picture nomination.” (It was Blum’s second: The first was for a non-horror venture, 2014’s Whiplash.) His latest project, Hulu’s Into the Dark, is an anthology series (the second episode airs November 2) of stand-alone horror films, the episodes united by a common theme: holidays. Does Blum, 49, agree that, as some have claimed, we are in a golden age of scary movies? “It’s accurate, but it’s not the first one,” he tells Newsweek. “The popularity of horror is cyclical. I’ve lived through three cycles already.”
What about Get Out made horror respectable for critics and the motion picture academy?
Get Out reminded people that there can be real artistry to horror movies, and they are a great vehicle to deliver a positive social message. This has been true since Frankenstein; John Carpenter did it in the 1970s better than anyone. And the academy certainly looks at movies [in terms of] “Are they trying to give a message to make the world a better place?”—like
Get Out did with racism. How would you describe a Blumhouse film? It has an edge and a singular point of view. Auteur is not a word commonly equated with horror, but most of our films are auteur-driven. And not all of them are classic horror. We’re making a scripted series for HBO about [Fox News founder] Roger Ailes—that’s really scary to me. What are your all-time favorite horror movies? The Shining. Rosemary’s Baby. The scariest for me was Friday the 13th. Do you regret passing on 1999’s The Blair Witch Project? Of course—deeply! But I learned valuable lessons. Passing on a movie that became the most successful horror movie of all time gave me the conviction to believe in my own unorthodox tastes—to believe in a project like Paranormal Activity when no one else did. —Zach Schonfeld
“We keep our budgets low so we can take risks on movies like: Get Out.”