No one is doing more for mainstream horror movies right now than producer Jason Blum. It doesn't matter if you love every single one of his movies or hate them with a passion, the reality is he and his Blumhouse Productions are backing bold, original projects and then shopping them out to various studios, giving Hollywood a slate of unique films to release instead of the remake, rehash, generic dreck that they typically opt for instead.
Blum, who made his Hollywood bones as the cohead of Acquisitions and Productions at Miramax in the '90s, has made a boatload of money off Paranormal Activity (he was the producer who turned Oren Peli's obscure, micro-budget found-footage movie into a global phenomenon), and while he obviously went on to turn that into one of the most successful film franchises ever, he's also used his considerable clout (and bank account, no doubt) to make some of the most interesting horror movies to come out of Hollywood this past decade. But as much as we love his recent fare like Sinister and Insidious (both of which are getting sequels soon) and, to a lesser extent, Dark Skies, it's these five films that are just around Blum's corner that have us most excited.
Angry Little God
Directed by: Daniel Stamm
Starring: Mark Webber, Ron Perlman, Rutina Wesley, Pruitt Taylor Vince
By far this is my most anticipated title on Blum's slate. First, it's a new film from Stamm, who directed The Last Exorcism, one of the more interesting found-footage movies around. That alone makes it exciting, but the even bigger draw here is that this is a remake of the fantastic Thai movie 13: Game of Death. Yes, above I bemoaned Hollywood remakes, but this is a movie that's absolutely perfect for an American personality.
We're not sure what all is changing from the original film, but the Thai version is about a guy who is already in debt when he gets fired from his job. Things are looking grim, but then he gets a phone call telling him that if he completes a series of tasks, his bank account will be handsomely rewarded. It starts off small, but his day gets increasingly insane as the tasks grow more and more amoral. It's a cool, clever film about how easily people can be puppeteered when money enters the equation. Years ago I wrote about the film's big potential as a remake, so it's thrilling to see it finally come together.
Directed by: Bryan Bertino
Starring: Emily Alyn Lind, Todd Stashwick, Spencer List
We actually don't know a whole lot about Mockingbird. We do know, though, that it's the second film from The Strangers writer-director Bryan Bertino. That alone has us ready to buy a ticket. As for the plot, this is all we've got right now: "A couple are given a camera and a set of instructions which they must follow or else someone will die."
Directed by: James DeMonaco
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey, Edwin Hodge
The trailer for this hit earlier today and it's what inspired this Blum-praising post to begin with. It's about a sort of parallel reality to our own in which the cure for what ails America's economy and society isn't political reform, it's to simply give people a night in which nothing is illegal. It's the kind of high-concept genre movie we rarely see these days, one that calls to mind the likes of Escape from New York or No Escape-- movies where society is so afraid of crime that they just completely give in to it for the greater good.
Of course, The Purge isn't just a utopia as dystopia story. It's also got a home-invasion hook to it. But still, we'd rather watch a home-invasion story within the out-there premise of this nothing-is-illegal world than yet another one about creepy people visiting a house in the woods.
Not Safe for Work
Directed by: Joe Johnston
Starring: Max Minghella, J.J. Field, Molly Hagan, Eloise Mumford
Joe Johnston is best known for making big spectacle films like Jurassic Park III and, most recently, Captain America: The First Avenger. He's a director with a deep background in movie magic (he worked on the visual effects for the original Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark) who can deliver big ideas on a smaller budget. That's why we're dying to see what he can do when he takes on a thriller that's, in theory, small scale to begin with.
Not Safe for Work was written by indie horror regulars Adam Mason and Simon Boyes (Broken, The Devil's Chair), a pair that are known for liking the grungier corners of the genre. Considering that's not Johnston's beat in the slightest, we're extra curious to see what he brings to the table in this movie about a worker trapped inside his office building with a serial killer. Given that info and the name of the movie, we're thinking it might be a bit of a dark comedy, but whatever genre it ends up being it should make for a fascinating shift following Captain America.
The Town That Dreaded Sundown
Directed by: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Starring: Addison Timlin
The Town That Dreaded Sundown is a remake of the 1976 movie of the same name, only there's a newly announced twist to it: that movie actually exists in this movie's world. The original took the novel approach of presenting the supposedly true story about a masked killer that stalked a small Texas town as if it were an episode of an Unsolved Mysteries-esque TV show. In this new version of the story, the '76 film has a big cult following, so much so that someone becomes a copycat killer in tribute to the movie. The story follows a survivor of this crazed fan's massacre who tries to figure out who is the copycat.
There's no telling how well this meta approach is going to work, but the sheer idea of it makes it more interesting than a straight-up remake. Plus, it's the feature film debut of Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, who directed some of the best episodes of American Horror Story. So, at the very least, it should be stylish as hell.
Those aren't the only films on Blum's slate in the near future, they're just the ones that have us the most intrigued. He also produced Rob Zombie's The Lords of Salem, a movie with a funky '70s vibe and some eye-popping cinematography and production design (it's not a grand slam, but it's better than the bad buzz out of SXSW would have you believe). Then there's Ghosts from Kevin Greutert (who directed Saw VI, one of the series' stronger sequels), Mercy from The Haunting in Connecticut's Peter Cornwell (based on Stephen King's short story), and The Breathing Method from Sinister director Scott Derrickson (also based off a Stephen King story). Blumhouse is also attached to Ouija, the off-again, on-again film coproduced by Platinum Dunes. We don't know where that film is at, but if anyone can usher along a worthwhile movie about the popular medium/board game, it's this man.
Will all of these movies be amazing pieces of horror? Who knows? It'd be an unprecedented track record of quality, that's for sure. But even if it isn't, even if a few of them are total duds, you've got to respect that this many original horror movies (even the remakes have unique spins on them!) are coming from one producer. As a big fan of the genre, I thank you, Jason Blum.
Read our interview with Jason Blum from last October here.