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Exclusive Interview: Jason Blum Chats “The First Purge” And New TV Series

Tuesday, September 25, 2018 | Interviews

By: Richelle Charkot

The thrilling franchise The Purge from Blumhouse Productions sees its fourth instalment come to 4K Ultra HD, Blu-Ray, DVD and On Demand on October 2nd. The First Purge is a prequel and origin story that follows the government’s plan to push the crime rate down through an extreme sociological experiment – all crime being legal for 12 hours. They first run a test of the experiment on a marginalized area on Staten Island, sparking immense controversy. American fans will also have the premiere of the new television series (also called The Purge) to look forward to, starting September 4th at 10/9c on USA Network. It will follow several different characters than what the franchise has already seen, all forced to the very brink of what they would do just to survive. 

Producer and genre-hero Jason Blum took the time to speak with us about these recent inclusions to the franchise, as well as the market for horror media.

Jason Blum and cast member Lex Scott Davis celebrate the upcoming release of The First Purge at the opening of Universal Studios Hollywood’s “Halloween Horror Nights” in Universal City, CA

There are endless examples of genre films holding a mirror to the current sociopolitical climate, The First Purge undoubtedly being another example. Why do you think that horror is such an effective vehicle for that?
I think that because of a lot of what’s going on in politics not only now but all throughout history can be so frightening, it makes people fear for their livelihood and lives, which is exactly what horrors movies do.

Something that interested me about some recent Blumhouse productions such as The First Purge or Unfriended: Dark Web is that they root themselves in reality. Do you think that the market for horror films will err more towards realism instead of supernatural in the near future?
It’s an interesting question, I don’t know the answer. What my guess would be is that rather than one replacing the other entirely, the market will probably expand to accommodate both – seeing more Halloween and Purge type movies. I don’t think supernatural will ever really go away.

Why do you think lower budgets work so well for the horror genre?
I think that when you have a lower budget, it tends to make the movies feel grittier and real. When there’s too many stunts or special effects – there’s exceptions to this, of course – its tend to be the enemy of horror, unless its just for a few seconds. A Quiet Place would definitely be an exception because the special effects are so good, however. But when there’s a lot of special effects it takes away from the human interaction and the drama, and when you don’t have much money that’s what you focus on. It keeps directors focussed on things that frighten us.

You’ve described Blumhouse productions as low budget with high concepts – which I think lends to the opportunity for vast world building, especially in cases like Paranormal Activity or The Purge. How do you know when a movie has that certain quality to build on later?
I wish we could say we were strategic as that – the movies that really connect with audiences and are really commercially successful are generally where world building starts to expand. There’s a couple movies that we’ve done that are going straight to television, that maybe haven’t performed that well. Instead it’s that we build a world when we have a successful movie, as compared to the other way around.

What are some movies that have frightened you the most, and why? 
My favourite scary movies are definitely Hitchcock’s movies – Psycho, especially. I love the way that Hitchcock put together genre films. He looms above everybody else as my creative mentor, absolutely. Some others that come to mind are The Shining, Rosemary’s Baby. When you make scary movies its hard to be scared yourself – when your business is scaring people.

Is there anything you can tease about the upcoming television series for The Purge?
Not particularly, but what I will say is that if we do a second second or another movie, world’s will collide. If people are familiar with the four movies now, they’ll definitely see easter eggs and references throughout the ten hour series.