The Entertainment Influencers Track at SXSW features inspirational talks from thought leaders, experts, and innovators, including conversations with high-profile speakers from around the entertainment, film, and TV industries. Jason Blum as been selected as one of this year’s Featured Speakers.
Blum is one of the most well-known producers in Hollywood these days. His company, Blumhouse Productions, is known best for making some of the most popular horror movies of the last decade. They produce movies on a relatively small budget and give creators plenty of control. Movies made with Blumhouse often make their money back quickly and just keep earning.
It’s true that Blumhouse (and its namesake) has branched out from film to produce TV series, books, podcasts and even haunted attractions. But movies are still the basis of this massive enterprise, and there are some that you just can’t miss if you want to keep up. You might notice that many of the movies Blumhouse produces tell supernatural or paranormal stories, but even if that’s not your jam, keep reading because there are some real-life thrills to be had with Blumhouse too.
“Paranormal Activity” (2009)
Director: Oren Peli
Ah, the one that started it all. Peli’s super low-budget ghost film was so buzzed about after its U.S. release in 2009 it was impossible to avoid talk of it. There were no famous faces, no crazy special effects, just tension that’s ratcheted up throughout the film. And it brought more appreciation for found footage back to horror, well after “The Blair Witch Project” made a splash in 1999.
Director: Scott Derrickson
You can’t forget to mention this one when you’re talking about SXSW. “Sinister” had its premiere at the festival in 2012 and was released for the public in October of that same year. It gave Ethan Hawke one of his first leading roles in a horror movie. And although it’s in the supernatural/occult subgenre, there’s no shortage of gore and shocking imagery in this one. A sequel was released in 2015, but it can’t hold a candle to the first.
Director: James Wan
This movie is what happens when master director James Wan works with Blumhouse. Written by Wan’s frequent filmmaking partner Leigh Whannell and starring Patrick Wilson, “Insidious” is a terrifying supernatural horror film. It even acknowledges genre issues when the family realizes something is wrong at their new home and they actually move to get away from it. Unfortunately for them, it’s not always a house that’s haunted.
Director: Joel Edgerton
This is a perhaps a lesser-known Blumhouse production. Written, starring, co-produced and directed by Joel Edgerton, “The Gift” is a thriller that throws so many twists and turns your way, you may not know what to think by the end. It also stars Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall, who are both great in their roles. It may have come out in 2015, but it’s never too late to catch up with a slept-on hit.
Director: Levan Gabriadze
Though it’s a fairly divisive film, “Unfriended” is a pretty revolutionary one too. It was the first mainstream horror movie to do found footage entirely on computer screens — Skype, Facebook, you name it. It would be hard to know how to react to a vengeful ghost IMing you and killing off your friends one by one, which is exactly what these characters are dealing with. Pro tip: watching this on a laptop really immerses you in the action.
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Many might consider this 2015 movie to be M. Night Shyamalan’s comeback. When siblings are sent to visit their grandparents while their mom is on a cruise, what could possibly go wrong? Apparently, a lot. The trailers might make you think of fairy tales or imply that something not quite human is going on here, but it’s far realer and more disturbing than that. If you skipped it based on the writer/director, go back and watch it now. You won’t regret it.
“The Belko Experiment”
Director: Greg McLean
This movie is not for the faint of heart. It may make you think of “Battle Royale” for the workplace. “The Belko Experiment” is tense and gory and focuses on the very worst instincts of humankind. But in that way, it’s incredibly different from most of what Blumhouse has produced. While it is horrifying, this one might also work for fans of action movies due to being so fast-paced and unyielding.
Director: Jordan Peele
Jordan Peele’s directorial debut was wildly successful, and for good reason. It’s a frank look at how race affects everything in the U.S. With Bradley Whitford’s character declaring “I would voted for Obama for a third term,” it’s even sending a message about so-called liberals and allies. The horror in “Get Out” goes from awkward, cringeworthy moments to full-on terror. It’s an entertaining film and an important one that everyone should see.
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
This is another Shyamalan flick that can’t be ignored. At the end, “Split” was revealed to be in the same universe as 2000’s “Unbreakable,” which has now led to the final movie in the trilogy, “Glass.” But the second link in the series felt so different that it has to be highlighted. James McAvoy’s performance is something to behold, as he plays at least eight characters fluidly. There are some problematic elements to the story, but the movie rides the line between realistic and supernatural so well that it’s probably unlike anything you’ve ever seen.
Director: David Gordon Green
2018’s “Halloween” was a direct sequel to the original 1978 film of the same name. And while it’s not a perfect movie, it’s still a legendary accomplishment. The amount of detail and respect the filmmakers put into this sequel is apparent, and Blumhouse made a great choice supporting it. Seeing Michael Myers and Laurie Strode go head-to-head again, four decades later, will induce chills in most horror fans.
Are you attending SXSW 2019? Catch Jason Blum along with John Pierson on March 9 at 3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Which Blumhouse films are your favorites? Let us know in the comments below!
Originally hailing from Pennsylvania, Jackie has called Austin home since choosing to attend the University of Texas, where she graduated with a degree in multimedia journalism. She loves spending time with her dogs, writing about pop culture in all its forms and spending time with friends – eating, drinking and doing trivia.