Arts, Movies, Off Campus

Directors Use Horror Films to Expose Society’s Ugly Truths

The unofficial prince of modern horror, producer, and head of Blumhouse Productions, Jason Blum, has been the mind behind many of the decade’s most terrifying blockbusters. Films like Insidious, Get Out, and The Purge have been hailed as cultural cornerstones for the new generation of fright-hungry audiences, bringing forth a fresh set of blood-curdling classics. Considering his massive success in macabre media, it’s unsurprising that Blum would want to take his productions to the next level, i.e. signing an eight-film deal with Amazon. Enter Welcome To The Blumhouse, a collection of four Blumhouse-produced films released by Amazon as a precursor to the Halloween season. 

Welcome To The Blumhouse includes four new titles: The Lie, Black Box, Nocturne, and Evil Eye. Written and directed by a lineup of both veterans and newcomers, Welcome To The Blumhouse is an expedition into experiences rarely represented in horror, particularly those of people of color and female-centric narratives. Thanks to a virtual and socially-distant roundtable, I and several other college journalists were able to speak with each of the directors of the four films and get a full understanding of what it means to create horror films in a time that feels like a horror film itself. 

As the political climate of the United States becomes increasingly hostile, filmmakers feel an increasing need to address social issues head-on through writing and directing. Veena Sud, writer and director of The Lie, a film chronicling the desperation of divorced parents as they try to protect their daughter from incarceration after she murders her friend in a fit of rage, spoke on the responsibility she felt to explore the effects of race in the American criminal justice system on screen. 

Sud knew from the beginning that she wanted to address anti-Muslim sentiment in America, hence why she decided to make the father of murder victim Brittany a Pakistani man. By turning what should be the film’s victim into the villain, Sud demonstrated how the criminal justice system is often biased against Muslims and people of color. 

Sud is not alone in her desire for more narratives pertaining to the experiences of people of color in America. Audiences all over the world itch to see themselves represented on screen, whether that be in the form of racial representation or depictions of different kinds of family units. Emmanuel Osei-Kuffour Jr., writer and director of Black Box, an eerie film about a widower’s memory loss and subsequent experimentation with mind recovery, spoke on his experience connecting to the original script and putting his own spin on it. 

“I really felt that I wanted to tell a story about a man that was, you know, flawed, a man that had made mistakes,” he said. “So for me, the idea of getting a second chance at being a better father was something I was really interested in exploring.” 

Ultimately, Welcome To The Blumhouse is an examination of the different forms that horror can take. In a genre that was not originally so welcoming of women and people of color, Blumhouse Productions has utilized its infamous low-budget/creative freedom model to allow different perspectives in a once homogenous sector of film. Of course, there will always be room for improvement regarding the representation of minority groups in media, but Welcome To The Blumhouse is a step in the right direction. As long as a platform is given to the voices of the marginalized, there will always be an audience waiting to hear them.

Photo courtesy of Amazon Prime Video

October 19, 2020

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