The horror flick Oculus tells the story of a beautiful antique mirror whose most recent owners, siblings Kaylie (Karen Gillan) and Tim (Brenton Thwaites), are struggling to rebuild their relationship after the gruesome demise of their parents, 10 years earlier. While the two attempt to uncover the truth, they also begin to turn on each other, as the malevolent supernatural force of the mirror infects their minds and reflects their own insecurities.
At the film’s press day, Collider spoke to executive producer Jason Blum, of Blumhouse Productions, for this exclusive interview about how much of a luxury it was to get to watch a completed film before signing on as a producer, why he would have passed on this project, if he’d only had the script to go on, what most struck him about the story, his favorite stand-out moments, the next possible step in found footage movies, and more. He also provided updates and details on Amityville, Area 51, and Sinister 2. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
How much of a luxury was it to be able to watch Oculus before you got involved with the film?
BLUM: It was much easier than producing the movie. Trevor [Macy] had the hard job. But, we’ve done that a few times. We did that on Paranormal Activity. Oren [Peli] wrote the movie and shot the movie, and he thought it was finished when I saw it. We then continued to work on it for a long time. That movie, in particular, was three years from the time I saw it until the time it came out. But, it’s much easier to do that than produce the movies from scratch. It excites the same thing in me, whether we build it from the ground up, or whether we come on when the movie is done or almost done. The idea of supporting the underdog and getting a smaller movie out there in a big way is equally exciting.
With all of the elements to this story, the script might not have read the same way, as getting to see the final product. If you had just read the script, do you think you would have been more likely to pass on getting behind this film?
BLUM: I totally agree with you. I think if I had read the script, I wouldn’t have understood it. I give Trevor a lot of credit for that. And by the way, we definitely would have passed on it. [Writer/director Mike Flanagan] had only done one movie and it was very small. I wouldn’t have understood the script, and we definitely would have passed on it. I really do give Trevor a ton of credit for that. This is one of those scripts where I know the meeting we would have had. We would have been like, “Well, you have to get everything right for this movie to work.” And I really think that Mike did. Everything worked, which is a miracle. That never happens with a movie.
What was it about the story that struck you?
BLUM: I love the device that Mike came up with to show all these things that people have thought about, but you haven’t really seen on film. Everything thinks about chewing on glass, but how do you show someone bite into, particularly in this case, a lightbulb and not make it silly. Why would anyone ever do that? Well, they would do that because they think they’re actually biting into an apple, but they’re actually biting into glass, and yet they’re actually not. They’re perceiving something in a different way. They’re perceiving a different reality than the reality they’re experiencing. It was the same thing with the band-aid and the nail. And even the scene where the kids think they’re beating the movie, but the mirror won’t break and they’re hitting the wall. I think the idea of using mirror as a device to distort people’s perception of reality to an evil end is a great idea. Those were all things that I liked about it.
BLUM: No, but I think there’s fatigue for found footage movies. I think the audience needs a break. I’ve seen the next way to handle it. I saw the first live-action virtual reality movie, which was the most insane thing I’ve ever seen in my life. You use those Oculus glasses, and it was a Beck concert. There were three points of view – the audience far away, the audience in the middle, and on the stage with him – and it was insane. The crazy thing is that now it’s in my mind that I was at this concert. When I close my eyes, I can feel like I was at the Beck concert, even though I wasn’t there. That’s so cool. I want to make a scary movie like that, even though you couldn’t take more than five minutes. It’s too much. It’s too intense.
When you started making these quick low-budget movies, did you ever think about franchises, or were you totally surprised by the demand for it?
BLUM: The first time it happened was with Paranormal Activity, and we were shocked. But then, we were less surprised after that. I was less surprised that we were going to make the sequel to Insidious, or the sequel to Sinister, or even the sequel to The Purge. But the first time, we were shocked.
Have you started Paranormal Activity 5 yet?
BLUM: We’re just talking about it. We’re still developing it.
Is it fun to keep trying to challenge yourself to come up with new ideas for that franchise?
BLUM: It’s hard.
What can you say about Amityville? When you take on a story like that, that’s been told before, is it about finding a great idea that’s different?
BLUM: Yeah. We developed Amityville for four years, and the reason that it took so long is that I didn’t want to make the movie unless we could think of something different. And everyone is going to come to the theater to see Amityville thinking that it’s going to be a retread, and I like that. I think Franck [Khalfoun] found a way that will surprise people, and that’s why we’re making the movie. But, I think that’s fun. I like to be the underdog, in terms of our budget levels and even the material. I love the idea that everyone is going to roll their eyes when they hear Amityville, and then they’ll come to the theater and I hope they’ll be like, “Wow, this is fucking cool!” That appeals to me.
BLUM: It really is!
Is that something we’ll get to see, at some point?
BLUM: As much as I guarantee you will see Stretch, I guarantee that you’ll see Area 51.
Didn’t it finish shooting awhile ago?
BLUM: It did. We reshot a ton of times. We reshot on Area 51 almost as much as Paranormal Activity, but not quite. But the movie will come out, for sure. I guarantee it.
With as many things as you seem to be juggling, in various stages, what is actually next for you?
BLUM: Well, we have The Normal Heart in May, which is for HBO. And then, we have The Purge: Anarchy. And then, we have Jessabelle at the end of August, which is a voodoo movie with Lionsgate. And then, we have Ouija, which is our Halloween movie. And we have Paranormal Activity. And then, we have Amityville in the beginning of January 2015. And then, we have Boy Next Door, which is the J. Lo movie, in January. And then, there’s Lazarus, which is the Mark Duplass Frankenstein movie, and that’s really cool. Those are the next ones coming out.
Are you hoping to do Sinister 2 soon?
BLUM: Yes, I’m hoping to do Sinister 2 soon. We’re hoping to land on a director soon, and we’ll let everybody know who that is. I want to make that movie pretty quickly.
For more from our interview with Blum, click on the corresponding links:
- Producer Jason Blum Talks JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS; Reveals PG Adaptation Starts Shooting in 3 Weeks
- Producer Jason Blum Explains Why Joe Carnahan’s STRETCH Lost Its Release Date and When We Might See the Movie
- Producer Jason Blum Talks THE PURGE: ANARCHY, Future Sequels, and the Possibility of Releasing a PURGE Movie Every Year