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Q&A: Producer Jason Blum on “THE LAZARUS EFFECT”

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Make no mistake: Blumhouse Productions has become the strongest brand of horror operating today. With 6 fright flicks already hitting audiences this year so far, and at least 7 more fright films coming our way before the year ends, Blumhouse has taken the Corman business model and flipped it on its head, reaping in financial rewards and even critical reverence as well. It’s that reputation that helped build this year’s THE LAZARUS EFFECT, which gave JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI director David Gelb his first foray into fright and assembled an incredibly versatile cast that included Olivia Wilde, Mark Duplass, Donald Glover, Sarah Bolger, Evan Peters and Ray Wise. In light of the film’s recent home media release, Blum spoke to FANGORIA about THE LAZARUS EFFECT, bending genres and his horror-filled future…

FANGORIA: How did you first become a part of THE LAZARUS EFFECT?

JASON BLUM: David Gelb came to us with the script, so he was attached to the film before Blumhouse was evaluating the project. I think the studio was looking at it and wanted me to come on to help move it from development into production. I was a bit skeptical about David because, of course, he didn’t have the credits that would support a scary movie. We made him go through a few things and he impressed me, and we would never know until we start making the movie. But as soon as he started, we knew that we had the right person for the job, and thanks to THE LAZARUS EFFECT, I’m looking to do something else with David now.

FANGORIA: Having such an acclaimed documentary filmmaker on board must have helped in assembling the film’s impressive cast. How did you react once the cast came together as they did?

BLUM: I was very, very happily surprised. We offered the movie to Olivia [Wilde] and Mark [Duplass]. They liked the script but they wanted to meet David for the same reason I wanted to meet David. He impressed them as well, so they attached themselves to the movie, and I was very happy. I think the cast that we had did a great job. I have another movie with Mark called CREEP that is out now on iTunes and soon Netflix, and I hope to work with Olivia again soon as well.

FANGORIA: As a producer, what was the most important aspect for the project to have in order to separate it from previous FRANKENSTEIN or reviving the dead films?

BLUM: I thought THE LAZARUS EFFECT was obviously a nod to FRANKENSTEIN, but I thought we had a really new way to approach that story. That was actually one of the reasons I wanted to do the film: THE LAZARUS EFFECT had a really different way at looking at what happens after you die and come back to life. Not only does it focus on coming back to life but what actually happens in those 2 minutes or longer that you’re actually dead. It was a really cool, new take on the subject.

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FANGORIA: Did your particular production model help shape the supernatural aspects of the story in a unique way?

BLUM: Yeah, absolutely. With every movie Blumhouse does, the first thing I encourage the filmmaker to do is try new things. The reason we do low budget movies is so that we can take creative liberties with our filmmakers and allow them to do what they want to do or try new things. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But we’re trying to break the mold a little bit.

FANGORIA: Considering that Blumhouse is exploring new genres and subject matters as of late, were you more comfortable with how THE LAZARUS EFFECT approaches the horror and thriller aspects of the film?

BLUM: That’s actually the thing I love about THE LAZARUS EFFECT. It’s not entirely a horror movie; I would call it more of a horror-thriller. That was one of our concerns, in terms of whether it would resonate with strictly horror fans. If there was ever a concern, that was the concern, but there was never any concern with the movie itself. By the time I saw the finished version of the movie, I was very happy with it, and when David handed in his completed cut, I was very, very happy with that version of the movie.

I have been making indie, non-horror movies for a long time, so I wouldn’t necessarily use the word comfortable. I would actually be uncomfortable if I tried anything beyond “low budget.” That would definitely be out of my comfort zone, like if someone asked me to produce a Marvel movie. But anything low budget, regardless of genre, I would feel comfortable doing anything, including television.

We did do WHIPLASH and a few others that aren’t horror, but as a company, Blumhouse will continue to be mostly scary, low budget horror films and television shows. If something slips through every now and then, I won’t make a fuss, but that won’t be what we’re concentrating on looking for and are continuing to do.

FANGORIA: The company has a very busy year ahead of it; you’ve got THE GALLOWS, THE GIFT, CREEP, SINISTER 2 and THE GREEN INFERNO all out before summer ends. Is there anything else coming soon from the Blumhouse brand that fright fans should keep an eye out for?

BLUM: In addition to those, we’ve also got THE VISIT and JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS, and both of those movies came out pretty great. There’s also PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE GHOST DIMENSION, which has a major, major difference than the previous PARANORMAL ACTIVITY films. We released the trailer recently and I was so excited to let the world see it. I’m so pleased with how much of a great job Greg Plotkin did on THE GHOST DIMENSION.

THE LAZARUS EFFECT is now on DVD/Blu-ray. Keep an eye out for more from Blumhouse Productions later this year.

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About the author
Ken W. Hanley
Ken W. Hanley is the Managing Web Editor for FANGORIA and STARLOG, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, his debut novel "THE I IN EVIL", and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.
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