You know those awesome scary movies you’ve watched in the last few years? Paranormal Activity, Insidious, Sinister, The Purge and now The Gift… Did you know they were all from award-winning producer Jason Blum and his Blumhouse Productions? It’s impressive stuff and the fresh scares keep coming.
Blumhouse entered the movie arena as an innovative company creating high quality horror when Paranormal Activity spooked its way onto our screens in 2009. Today the company spearheads a growing number of creepy and intense films and budding horror franchises.
Most recently these high standards can be seen in Joel Edgerton’s acclaimed and very scary new film The Gift. And as we celebrate The Gift’s release, here are 10 of the most notable and downright chilling movies from their repertoire…
Paranormal Activity (2009) This movie launched Blumhouse Productions and was rightly a huge success instantly. Made for £10,000 and grossing nearly £130m at the box office, it has led to a series of sequels and copycats. The simplicity of the original idea – cameras in a bedroom capturing ghostly goings on – remains one of its great strengths and reflects Blumhouse’s formula for success; clever high concept ideas delivered in a slick and effective way. The film would become the most profitable movie of all time and both horror fans and Hollywood took note.
Paranormal Activity 2 (2010) Avoiding the pitfalls of obvious sequels, this follow-up started out as a prequel to the original but then the story went past the timeline of the first film and expanded it onto new territory. This was a great idea and pleased fans of the original film as well as gathering even more appreciative viewers. The £2m sequel went on to gross over £115m worldwide. The successful sequel cemented that Paranormal Activity could be popular with longevity. It was clear that the first film wasn’t a lucky accident after all.
Insidious (2011) Following the success of the Paranormal Activity films, Blumhouse moved on to an exciting new concept by partnering with genre figurehead and Saw creator James Wan. Along with Wan and Leigh Whannell, the team created a slick new vision for the modern horror film with good old fashioned scares. Insidious stars Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne in a horrifying haunting tale set within their new family home. Insidious was another hit at the box office and struck the right chord with both genre addicts and mainstream audiences, proving once again the Blumhouse knack for quality scares.
Sinister (2012) Continuing the trend of picking top talent, Blumhouse teamed with The Exorcism of Emily Rose co-writer and director Scott Derrickson (currently filming Doctor Strange for Marvel) to co-write and direct the latest in their growing catalogue. Ethan Hawke stars here as a true-crime writer who discovers a box of home movies in his attic that puts his family in terrifying danger. With an appealing new concept and creative marketing, audiences flocked to cinemas where the horror was another big success. It was becoming clear that we had a new wave of fresh scary movies and Blumhouse could take a lot of the credit. But it wasn’t over yet!
The Purge (2013) Like many Blumhouse films before, by the time the first The Purge was released, anticipation was tangible thanks to the fantastic concept; if on one night every year, you could commit any crime without facing consequences, what would you do? And what would you do if you fell victim to a home invasion? It was another hit with audiences with both a sequel and prequel to follow. Unlike earlier Blumhouse films, the story wasn’t solely a horror, but blended horror elements with a thrilling and grounded story. The innovative concept and entertaining delivery of it helped The Purge stand apart in the increasingly competitive cinema environment.
The Purge: Anarchy (2014) Following the success of the original, the story extended to the city streets where a young couple work to survive after their car breaks down as the annual purge commences. Much of its success has been attributed to evolving the original story rather than simply emulating it. This ability to deliver entertaining properties without taking easy shortcuts has been a staple of Blumhouse Productions and works in their favour. Now, with the prequel The Purge: Origins also in the works, the stage is set for more lawless carnage in the now-established mini-franchise.
Whiplash (2014) Taking dramatic elements traditionally found in horrors and thrillers, the multiple Award-winning and critically acclaimed Whiplash has become one of Blumhouse’s greatest cinematic achievements. Academy Award (TM) winning J.K. Simmons plays the legitimately terrifying music teacher and antagonist Terence Fletcher in a film that remains tense from the first scene to the last. With emotional notes hitting their mark and complex themes of obsession, perfection and abusive relationships, Whiplash is a great triumph and it was a huge hit with viewers. If you can take the intensity it truly demands repeat viewing.
The Lazarus Effect (2015) Blending both classic and cult horror elements from Frankenstein and the movie Flatliners, Blumhouse applied the proven formula to this modern horror tale, raising questions about the potential ethics of bringing the dead back to life. With established documentary filmmaker David Gelb at the helm and leading a great ensemble cast including Olivia Wilde, Evan Peters and Donald Glover, the movie has a fresh flavour whilst paying homage to good old fashioned scary cinema. The dog alone makes the film well worth a watch!
Unfriended (2015) Set in the world of webcams and internet browsers with an anonymous stranger terrorising teenagers, Unfriended is something of a throwback to the genius and simplicity of Paranormal Activity. Told through the camera lens of computer screens, and with the tech-savvy generation of social media as the primary audience, the very timely film ticked all the right boxes and proved to be another cinema hit for Blumhouse and the film’s makers. The hits keep rolling!
The Gift (2015) Which brings us up to date with lauded actor Joel Edgerton making a brilliant and acclaimed directorial debut. The Gift blends the best elements of a horror with a well written and wonderfully nerve-wracking thriller. In the story, a young married couple, Simon and Robyn, bump into an acquaintance from Simon’s school. It’s not long before a series of uninvited encounters and creepy gifts prove troubling and a horrifying secret from the past is soon uncovered. Original, inventive and brilliantly written and acted, The Gift was a sleeper hit in the US and the latest in the production house’s long series of quality ‘scarers’. Check out The Gift this Christmas and look out for what Blumhouse do next…