Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Cancel Anytime
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Jason Blum, founder and CEO of Blumhouse Productions, speaks during the Universal Pictures presentation at CinemaCon 2019 on April 3, 2019, in Las Vegas.

Chris Pizzello/The Associated Press

Five years ago, when I first spoke with movie producer Jason Blum, I opened things off on a slightly mean note, writing that the horror peddler was in the business of making well ... not-so-great movies. At the time, seemed like a fair assessment: Through his Blumhouse Productions, which focused on movies budgeted under the $5-million mark, Blum churned out such already-forgotten thrillers as The Gallows, Ouija, Dark Skies, Jessabelle and too many Paranormal Activity sequels to count. But as disposable as those works were, they made money. And today, Blum is not only continuing to rake it in, but also making genuinely memorable films, too.

Since 2015, the producer has been responsible for a mainstream horror resurgence, which has delivered genuine blockbusters that double as critical hits: Jordan Peele’s Get Out and Us stand apart from the pack, but there’s also David Gordon Green’s Halloween reboot, Leigh Whannell’s double dose of Upgrade and The Invisible Man, Tate Taylor’s Ma, Christopher Landon’s witty Happy Death Day 2U series and James Wan’s ever-expanding Insidious franchise. Sure, Blum is still pumping out does-this-movie-really-exist-or-am-I-dreaming-it fare (Fantasy Island, Delirium), but by this point it is clear that the man is more than the mere second coming of Roger Corman – he is a genuine Hollywood Golden Boy.

So when the industry winds start to blow this way or that, it’s best to check in with Blum to see which weather he’s forecasting. On the occasion of the producer’s latest venture, the anthology film series Welcome to the Blumhouse on Amazon Prime Video – which kicks off just ahead of Halloween with the streaming releases of The Lie and Black Box – I talked with Blum about horror, Hollywood and the horror of a COVID-hobbled Hollywood.

Story continues below advertisement

Black Box is one of the first films in the Welcome to the Blumhouse anthology.

Courtesy of Amazon Studios/Amazon Prime

What inspired the grouping of these seemingly disparate movies into Welcome to the Blumhouse? They’re not typical horror fare. The Lie, by Canadian director Veena Sud, is more a family drama that turns dark.

I think the disparity is what hangs them together. They’re unusual in that they’re from voices we’re less used to hearing from. They’re not told from an old white guy’s point of view.

There will be four movies going to Amazon this fall as part of this series, then four more next year. Were some of these titles destined for theatrical release, and COVID forced some ingenuity? The Lie has been available for a while, premiering at TIFF in 2018.

Only one movie, The Lie, was pre-existing, and we were thinking of doing a different kind of release with that. But then I talked with [Amazon Studios chief] Jennifer Salke about how that film would work best in this package. And one of the things we’re lucky about at Blumhouse is we’re a producer and not a distributor. We don’t have a pipeline where we have to release 15 movies or shows a year. I tend not to think about the distribution until late in the process, sometimes not till it’s finished. We make movies and then find the best avenues for them. And I think I’m going to be right in this case.

Why are these films a good fit for Amazon as opposed to other streamers?

I’ve had a good experience with Amazon on the marketing side, almost better than anywhere else. The downside of making films for streamers is you can feel you’re one of a million Model Ts – it’s a conveyor belt. But to answer a larger question, there’s a specific horror movie for streamers versus horror movies for theatrical. Streaming, you can take more risks and do things that are more unusual. And there are certain horror tropes you have to hit for a theatrical movie to work.

The Lie, part of the Welcome to the Blumhouse anthology, originally premiered at TIFF in 2018.

Amazon Prime

On the question of where movies end up going today, your upcoming Vince Vaughn serial-killer comedy Freaky is heading to theatres next month. But today, you announced your sequel to The Craft would be heading to premium video-on-demand (PVOD).

Story continues below advertisement

That’s a product of what studios those films are at. Sony is still saying that movies have to have a three-month window [between opening theatrically and appearing on home entertainment], or they’re not doing theatrical at all. I don’t know who else besides Universal Pictures has signed an agreement with exhibition for a reduced window. Both those movies were going to be traditional theatrical movies. I encouraged Sony to say we should move The Craft Legacy sooner rather than later, and the only way they can release is through PVOD. They could go theatrical, but a lot of theatres aren’t open. Freaky is going theatrical and then quickly to PVOD because it’s going through this new agreement that Universal has with exhibition.

Do you feel the industry uses horror movies as the sort of canary in the coal mines when it comes to business decisions like that?

Totally. I always think horror movies are Trojan horses. We use the skin of a horror movie to smuggle in movies about gun control, like The Purge, or movies about race, like Get Out. On a more broad level, the Welcome to the Blumhouse movies are like Sundance dramas poured into unsettling genre moments. It makes them more commercial and marketable. It’s like Sinister, which is about a guy choosing career over family, but with [the demon] Bughuul added, so people would see it.

Do you see more filmmakers turning to the horror genre due to COVID filming restrictions? A lot of these movies generally take place in locked-down environments, where you don’t need a bunch of extras or expensive on-location shoots.

Horror movies are very COVID-proof in terms of production. We’re seeing more expensive movies ramping down, and I don’t think those will come back until there’s a vaccine. It’s too expensive to shut down a $200-million movie multiple weeks if someone gets sick. But I think that being in lockdown will affect storytelling generally. There are a bunch of movie and show scripts that I’ve read that now feel dated and don’t make sense. I’m also not interested in making movies about people in lockdown. I’m here – I don’t need to see it.

So people will want more escapism?

Story continues below advertisement

I think when bad things happen in the world, there’s more demand for horror. People gravitate toward something that’s even worse than what’s going on outside their window. It’s the idea of control, too. You can turn it off, and that provides a certain amount of solace. I also read a study recently that horror fans are better suited to life during COVID than non-horror fans. People who watch horror movies are always imagining worst-case scenarios, so they’re better prepared. I think it’s true! It gave me a laugh, at least.

This interview has been condensed and edited

Welcome to the Blumhouse’s The Lie and Black Box are available to stream on Amazon Prime Video starting Oct. 6; Evil Eye and Nocturne will be available starting Oct. 13

Plan your screen time with the weekly What to Watch newsletter. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies