Horror fans: In case our interviews with the cast and filmmakers of Unfriended and Insidious: Chapter 3 weren’t enough for you, we also got to talk to Blumhouse Productions founder and CEO Jason Blum about two more of the production company’s upcoming horror films–The Gallows and Sinister 2.
Before we get into the teasers, though, let’s take a moment to talk about Blumhouse. In case you don’t know, the company is probably behind your favorite recent horror film. They have pioneered a new model of studio filmmaking by producing high-quality, micro-budget (and often highly-profitable) films for wide release. These films include the highly successful Paranormal Activity, The Purge, Insidious, and Sinister franchises, to name a few.
So how do Jason Blum and Blumhouse turn low budget horror films into major box office successes? “Well, they’re not all successes, but we do have a good track record for sure,” Jason said. “I think the way we do it is very connected to making them inexpensively–and that’s not because they’re profitable because they’re inexpensive. It’s because when you don’t spend a lot of money, you can do weird, creative stuff.” This approach is especially critical in horror. “The more money you throw at it, the more generic it gets, the more produced it gets, the more glossy it is… The less scary it gets,” Jason said.
That said, picking the right project–a fresh concept, a strong story, innovative scares, all that good stuff–is still important. What does Blumhouse look for? “Two things: scary and different,” Jason said. “Now, that really applies to originals. Sequels, obviously, there’s mythology and there’s all these things that are pre-established. Obviously, you want to make every movie in a franchise different from the previous one. But on original movies, I really look for what scares me and what feels new, what feels different.”
Speaking of new and different, Jason teased two of Blumhouse’s upcoming films–The Gallows and Sinister 2–at WonderCon. Let’s take a closer look:
The Gallows is a found-footage movie directed by Chris Lofing and Travis Cluff, who developed the movie on YouTube. Here’s the official synopsis:
Twenty years after an accident caused the death of the lead actor during a high school play, students at the same small town school resurrect the failed stage production in a misguided attempt to honor the anniversary of the tragedy — but ultimately find out that some things are better left alone.
With films like Paranormal Activity having popularized the found-footage genre of horror, what made The Gallows catch Blumhouse’s attention? “Everyone’s tired of found-footage, and myself at the top of the list. We see gazillions of found-footage movies, and they don’t work–99.9% of them. This one just happens to really, really feel scary and great,” Jason said. He credited the talented filmmakers and low budget for The Gallows‘ success–they didn’t overthink it, and the film just worked.
Jason also discussed why found-footage is actually quite a difficult medium to work in. “To make a scary movie in found-footage is actually way harder than a traditionally shot movie because scary movies are people in jeopardy. When people are in jeopardy, they don’t hold a camera, so you’re always fighting with that in a found-footage movie. In The Gallows, they really figured out how to make that organic, so you’re not questioning the camera all the time. It immediately makes [the film] not scary when you’re like, ‘Why are they filming?’ And they answered that in a very clever way.”
Sinister 2 is the highly anticipated follow-up to 2012’s Sinister. Here’s what it’s all about:
In the aftermath of the shocking events in “Sinister,” a protective mother (Shannyn Sossamon of “Wayward Pines”) and her 9-year-old twin sons (real-life twins Robert and Dartanian Sloan) find themselves in a rural house marked for death as the evil spirit of Bughuul continues to spread with frightening intensity.
Attendees of Blumhouse’s WonderCon panel were treated to a 17-second “teaser of a teaser” for the film–the full trailer has since been released. Here’s what Jason had to say about the eagerly awaited sequel: “Deputy So-and-So is much more prominent in the movie. Bughuul is back up to more hijinks, and Deputy So-and-So is trying to figure out what exactly he’s doing. There’s a new family, there’s a new drama going on, there are 5 or 6 new kill films. We’re not done with the cut yet, so there could be 5 or 6. But the movie is very dark and disturbing, like the first movie, but with a whole new set of characters. I love it, and I think people will be really, really psyched about it.”