Interview: Jason Blum talks Oculus
To varying extents, he’s had a hand in some of the most iconic and successful horror films of the last decade.
Jason Blum, the founder and CEO of Blumhouse Productions, has championed the genre franchises Paranormal Activity¸ Insidious¸ and The Purge, among many other horror films. His latest Oculus, about a traumatized brother and sister duo that set out to destroy a possessed mirror they believe responsible for killing their parents, has been lauded by critics and embraced by fans.
While his name and backing has certainly helped the movie do well at the box office so far, it remains mostly untouched since Blum first caught the movie at its premiere during the Toronto International Film Festival in 2013 and picked up thereafter.
“I saw it first at Toronto and I thought it was great,” explained Blum during a phone conversation following the wide release of Oculus. “In this case, the more I saw it, the more I really appreciated it. There is a lot you miss the first time around that you get in subsequent viewing. [Director and writer] Mike Flanagan is a thoughtful guy, and the movie is very thoughtful.”
After it was acquired, Blum and company in fact made a lot of changes, but after taking them in, they decided to revert back to the original. The wide release has only exceptionally minor and non substantive changes than the one that premiered in Toronto.
The decision seems to have worked. With parallel storylines, the chilling horror jumps between the past and present, as a mirror that looks to possess the spirits of the dead plague an unsuspecting family. It’s been praised for both its scares and refreshing storytelling.
“What scares me still is when you have a great dramatic scene when you’re really involved in the drama and the storytelling, so that the suspense is very intense, and then…scare,” Blum explained. “When the movie tricks you into forgetting you’re watching a scary movie for a minute, and then it scares, that’s always for me the most effective.”
The template for Blum has worked well so far, and Oculus fit into that mold, despite some recent criticisms that his productions go straight to video or length post-productions states.
“The reason we do only low-budget movies is that we can actually try new things,” said Blum. “If you do a low-budget movie, you’re not risking vast sum. That allows you to try to new things. I definitely try to encourage people to lean towards trying something new than something we’ve already done.”
Based on early success and audience response, as well as history of Blum horror production, a sequel surely must be on the mind of those involved.
“If Mike wanted to do a sequel, I would happily produce,” said Blum. “I have no ideas what his feelings are on that subject, but I wouldn’t particularly want to do it with any other writer or director. If the movie influences the culture in a big enough way, you can always figure out the sequel.”
While the option is certainly viable, Blum went on to explain that the second in the series may not necessarily happen anytime soon. “If you have an original, the sequel takes a good amount of time. Once you make 2, though, you can be sure we’ve thought about 3.”