Blumhouse: Reinventing horror

Of all the production companies in the horror genre, Blumhouse is by far the most well known in recent years.

A company that focuses on low-budget horror films, where directors are given artistic license. They’ve grown over the past 12 years from a small company to a booming industry titan that garners respect from even the harshest of critics.

They are the makers of such genre benders as the Insidious franchise and the Sinister films. Blumhouse has produced gems for future generations to enjoy.

Insidious 3

Now, to paint with a broad brush as I just have is a poor practice when describing any entity. I wish to also state that Blumhouse has produced some failures as well. Namely the recent Purge films and some Rob Zombie films; true gore fests, but not a source of quality suspense and horror.

Founded by Jason Blum in 2000, this 18-year-old company has boasted huge pay offs for minimal investments.

The first Paranormal Activity invested only $15K in the production and it earned over $190M worldwide. The first of its kind to reach such a wide audience, the documentary/found footage genre had been pioneered by The Blair Witch Project some years earlier, and largely left alone save for independent films.

Paranormal ActivityThe genre is now a common horror trope that earns scorn from jaded movie critics, but back then it was groundbreaking.

The creative control directors are offered by Blumhouse has created unique movies that earn raised eyebrows from all fans, with those that love the direction or hate it.

In Sinister, we had an ancient evil that lurked in photographs and home films, and images used in pseudo-satanic ritualistic murders performed by an unknown killer.

The plot could have been spelled out in many ways, but director, Scott Derrickson chose to have ghosts that didn’t act out in a traditional ghostly fashion. Instead, they acted as silent observers. They leapt in and out of shadows, just out of the protagonist’s sight, and gave an eerie suspense for the evil God.

The movie cost $3M to make and grossed over $87M.

SinisterNow, not all Blumhouse films are gems. By granting artistic license to directors, the company increases the risk that a “visionary” filmmaker could create a dud.

Plush and 13 Sins were two films that didn’t cover their costs and resulted in a net loss for the company. Both films had intriguing plots that could have been directed in a different fashion, but they weren’t.

This led to their ranking as “D-list” movies, with poor reviews and forgettable acting that leaves a bad taste in the viewers’ mouths.

Blumhouse has allowed more freedom for newer directors, which should always be encouraged. We get some amazing films, some questionable, and a host of passable ones that fit into any horror film marathon.

The week leading to Halloween is jam-packed with channels running Blumhouse features, and ratings are generally favorable.

For those questioning whether Blumhouse has been a good influence on the horror industry, I can only point them to their local film channel and ask them to count how many times a Blumhouse feature is showing.

Most of the time, you’ll find yourself staring at the iconic image of the ghostly girl and fractured ceiling…

Blumhouse is here to stay, and I cheerfully look forward to their next film.

By Nicholas Paschall (@Nelfeshne)

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