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What’s Been The Problem With Their Recent Films?

After Night Swim and Imaginary, has Blumhouse lost their way or can they get back to being more innovative?

A new trailer has been released for the Blumhouse / Jeff Wadlow horror film Imaginary, reaching theatres next month

Last week saw the release of a pretty terrible Blumhouse horror movie in Imaginary. This followed their other terrible outing this year, Night Swim. Both of these were PG-13 ventures which failed on nearly every conceivable level. This is the same company that produced great horror films like Get Out, The Invisible Man, and The Black Phone. Those films had such imagination and respect for the genre. So what the hell happened?

The biggest issue with Blumhouse these days is that there’s no apparent passion behind these PG-13, middle-of-the-road horror movies like what we’ve seen from them this year. They used to take unproven filmmakers, give them a chance with a low budget, and get results. Sure, those results would vary, but there was at least some kind of momentum that was more than just profit-based. Because the Blumhouse of new seems to just be chasing trends. What’s that? Paramount is making a new film about an imaginary friend? We better make our own horror version.

I don’t outright hate this idea, but there needs to be some care put behind it. Otherwise, it just ends up looking like something The Asylum would do. With Imaginary, what we got was a script that could have been AI-generated that hardly even takes advantage of its concept. Rather than a labor of love, it just felt like they were trying to beat the other film’s release date. And I get it. Films are expensive to make and market so you’ll take any advantage that pops up. But that doesn’t excuse the lack of, well…imagination.

When it comes to something like Night Swim, I can’t help but think of an old Jason Blum interview. He said that if they make a movie with teens as their leads, they want it to be PG-13 so that those same teens can see it in a theater. Essentially saying that they reserve the R rating for more mature fare that deserves it. This is where I’d like to point out that the main plot point of Night Swim is Wyatt Russell’s former pitcher character, coming to grips with the fact that, that part of his life is over. He’s a family man now. Shouldn’t that be aimed at an older audience that can relate? So why, rather than an intense character study about identity do we receive teens getting jump scared and silly ghosts? It’s almost like Blumhouse forgot their own rule.

And, even though I don’t count myself amongst them, there’s a lot of hatred around The Exorcist: Believer. So much so that its sequel is being completely retooled, with David Gordon Green having left the series. I can’t say I’m disappointed in this, as general audiences clearly didn’t jive with the take in Believer. But it’s further proof that the Blumhouse formula of throwing some legacy actor into an old franchise was no longer working.

Even the company’s most successful film Five Nights at Freddy’s was still a steaming pile of crap to a lot of us (it made Awfully Good’s Worst of the Year list). The game series has a large fanbase on the younger side, so it’s not surprising to see it succeed. But it was shocking how lazy Blumhouse was with the filmmaking side. They essentially went “We’ll just pander to game fans” versus actually making a satisfying story for first-timers. And hell, for a game series that’s known for its jump scares, having its film counterpart be near tension-free is an odd choice. But they made a ton of money, so I doubt they’ll be changing the formula on that one.

That said, I’m not going to pretend like Blumhouse is making nothing but crap. Just last year they released the underrated film The Passenger with Kyle Gallner. They gave an unproven filmmaker a chance and it makes for an extremely unique film. Yet has anyone heard of it? How could they when the film was dropped onto MGM+ without so much as a whimper? It’s tough subject matter so I’m not saying it deserved the same widespread release of an Imaginary, but it deserved more than it got. Because it’s getting to the point that when the Blumhouse logo appears, audiences groan. And if the company isn’t careful, there will be no coming back and it’ll be left with a reputation in tatters.

And the only way they’re going to do that is by stopping these soulless releases. They need to get back to giving unproven filmmakers low budgets and creative freedom. Because every time they release one of these low-effort films, the brand is tainted more and more. And the last thing we need is for them to become the new Platinum Dunes (God forbid).

That said, Blumhouse does have some promising fare coming out over the next year or so. Scott Derrickson is returning to the fold for The Black Phone 2 (find out everything we know about it here), Leigh Whannel has a highly anticipated re-imagining of The Wolf Man coming, while their Speak No Evil remake has an outstanding cast.

What do you think? Has Blumhouse lost their way? Are there any hopes of saving them? Am I overreacting? Let me know in the comments below!

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