First established in 2000, the formidable studio Blumhouse Productions, known for its wide expanse of low-budget horror films, turns 20 this year. The production company, founded by the now very notable film producer Jason Blum, has racked up a hefty filmography of horror/thriller-based features, all of which are funded by the Blumhouse company and most of which you’re very likely to have seen or at the very least heard of.
Over the past few years, Jason Blum has made a name for himself and the company which surrounds him as a producer who is not afraid to support films which may not meet Hollywood expectations and instead use lower budgets, lesser-known actors and follow somewhat unconventional storylines. You may be familiar with a few of Blumhouse’s projects, such as the high-grossing possession-horror film Insidious (2010) or perhaps the supernatural thriller Sinister (2012), both of which fulfil horror conventions in a twisted way. When Blumhouse began as a studio, the aim of the company was to offer small budgets to a range of upcoming/small-time directors and to give said productions a saturated release across cinemas globally. The first feature to fulfil this plan was Oren Peli’s 2009 incredibly low budget horror film Paranormal Activity which to this day remains one of the most profitable films of all time, with an insanely high box office upon the back of an extremely low budget. The film has remained ingrained in cinematic history as one which brought a new style to the ‘b-movie’ horror genre.
One of the greatest successes to come out of the studio is the 2017 psychological-horror film Get Out which follows a unique and gripping original screenplay, written by director Jordan Peele (who has worked with Blumhouse on more than one occasion) which recalls the events of Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), a young African-American man, who faces a series of uncomfortable and disturbing experiences when visiting his girlfriend’s parents’ house. The film won the award for ‘Best Original Screenplay’ at the 90th Academy Awards alongside numerous nominations, making it a hit for both the company and the director.
As well as sticking religiously to the ever-so-popular horror style throughout their growing list of film productions, over recent years Blumhouse has begun to diversify into a wider range of genres including drama and thriller films. The incredibly tense drama film Whiplash (2014) and the eerily confusing psychological thriller Split (2017) are just two examples of the differing but incredibly successful outcomes of the studio which have earned a great deal of critical acclaim.
With the increase in streaming and online-viewing becoming the more favourable option for many potential audience members, Blumhouse Productions has moved slowly into video service providers by making connections with the likes of Netflix, Amazon, and more, alongside keeping their tight relationship with Universal Pictures in relation to cinema releases. Hush (2016), Cam (2018), and Thriller (2018), all of which have been released onto Netflix as the service gains more and more customers, have been popular films in terms of viewing figures, but not so much in critical response.
It’s obvious with the number of sequels, prequels, and series that have come out of Blumhouse Productions over the past few years that the studio is one of the (if not the) most popular horror-producing studios in the world at this moment in time. The studio still has so much life left in it, with clear evidence that they can easily turn their hand to supporting not only horror productions but with thrillers and dramas alike.