In a decade where continually slipping box offices numbers are the norm and it seems the only sure moneymakers anymore are star-studded action flicks and superhero franchises, guys like Jason Blum are welcome anomalies. Blum is the producer known for churning out wildly scary and wildly profitable films on a shoestring, including the Insidious and Paranormal Activity franchises. (The first Paranormal Activity was shot for just $15,000 and grossed nearly $200 million, making it the most profitable film ever.)
“The reason I love to do low-budget movies is you can try different things… have creative freedom and experiment, like our characters,” Blum says, referring to the cast of characters in Blumhouse Productions’ upcoming sci-fi/horror flick The Lazarus Effect, which arrives in theaters Feb. 27. Those creative risks started with the director, David Gelb, known for his award-winning documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi—not the obvious choice. “But he had a great take on the material,” which Blum describes as “a really unique take on bringing someone back from the dead.”
Another risk was purposefully casting people who don’t have experience in the genre—like star Olivia Wilde (pictured) and funny guys Donald Glover and Mark Duplass. The reasoning? “The most important thing to make a movie scary is that the you forget you’re watching actors, and you think you’re watching real people,” Blum explains. “So I think if the audience sees someone they don’t necessarily associate with that genre, it make it feel more real.”
The Lazarus Effect is about a group of medical students who experiment bringing dead matter back to life. Spoiler alert: One of the characters dies, of course, and they try the technique on her. “And it works. She comes back to life, but she comes back to life as not the woman that she was when she died.” Creepy.
If the plot sounds familiar to you, then you’ve probably seen Flatliners (1990), starring Julia Roberts, Kevin Bacon, and Kiefer Sutherland. “All of us really liked that movie,” Blum says. “I feel like we’re tipping our hat to Flatliners, for sure, in this movie.”
So if The Lazarus Effect enjoys as much success as some of Blum’s other films, can we expect to see a sequel in the future? “If it works, and if people feel the same way about the movie that I do,” he says, “then I would love to make another one.”