by Tom Power
Blumhouse Productions is a company that strives for originality. It’s an ethos embedded in Jason Blum’s entertainment firm, and one that shapes the projects that Blumhouse takes on.
In Welcome to the Blumhouse, the company’s horror anthology series, Blum and his team wanted to explore that mantra further. More than half of all Blumhouse movie-goers are from Black or ethnic minority backgrounds, so how do you go about building on and entertaining that demographic?
“Welcome to the Blumhouse is the product of underrepresented filmmakers,” Blum told RadioTimes.com. “We wanted to tell stories from people in those groups because that’s what makes up our audience. One of the benefits of choosing to work with those filmmakers is that the stories feel different, unique, and not stories we are used to.”
Welcome to the Blumhouse is a set of eight standalone movies that tell culturally diverse stories in the horror, psychological thriller, and paranormal mediums. The first four – The Lie, Black Box, Evil Eye, and Nocturne – come from filmmakers of African, Indian, and Filipino descent.
For Blum, having stories told by female and BAME filmmakers was a key cornerstone for the anthology, particularly in light of the “dumb comments” he made about diverse voices in the horror genre in 2018.
“Everybody says they want to [increase diversity], right?” Blum said. “But the question is ‘Are you doing it?’. From the minute that you say you want to do it, you set out a plan that says something like ‘Within three years, this much of my material is going to be from underrepresented groups’. You hit that, and then you set your next goal. A lot of the time, saying it isn’t enough. If you’re not doing it, you may have to force yourself to.”
With box office successes including The Purge and Paranormal Activity franchises under their belts, Blum’s company was approached by Amazon about creating a series for its Prime Video streaming service. Backed by Amazon’s financial resources, each filmmaker had the time and budget to create the movie that they envisioned from the start. More money doesn’t always make for a better film, though, so how did Blum ensure each production was as good as it could be?
“We have a certain amount of input,” he said. “I like to think that our input increases the number of tools for each director, but we try to have a singular voice that authors our movies, as opposed to a committee. Ultimately, we let the directors win and tell their stories. That makes for more interesting films.”
Welcome to the Blumhouse’s movies are structurally and culturally different, but explore similar themes including family and trauma. While Blum doesn’t believe that the anthology’s intention is to force viewers to reflect on their own relationships and issues, he does hope that they take something away from each tale.
“I think the most sacred things are our family relationships,” he explained. “When those are threatened or strained, that’s the most interesting drama to watch. I want people to say ‘That movie was cool or interesting’ and, then if it sparks a conversation afterwards, that is even better. Really, I hope people are entertained and glad that they saw the movies.”