Well MMT family, I have to confess that I am a “reformed” horror movie fan. I was recently asked to explain this term by none other than Paranormal Activity franchise, history making, mega producer Jason Blum, whose recent film The Purge opens in theaters nationwide today. I told Jason that “reformed” meant I was a huge horror fan as a kid growing up; but at my current age (I will be fabulously 40 in August thank you very much) and considering I only have the two furry gangstas (aka my cats) as my current home companions, “reformed” also translates to a more polite sounding version of CHICKEN! I don’t do the demonic spirit movies anymore, although I admitted that those Paranormal Activity films looked like a great scare and Sinister looked really intriguing. But, I can still handle a good thriller (hence my current fascination with the Fox hit The Following and my fanaticism with CBS’ Criminal Minds). So, I was really excited when I saw the trailer for The Purge, which is more speculative thriller than horror, although Jason prefers to describe it as a horror-thriller.
At the heart of The Purge stands the question: what would you do if one night a year you could commit any crime, even murder, and there were no repercussions? The film follows one family over the course of a 12-hour period, in which American citizens are government sanctioned to “self-regulate.” Any and everything goes during this 12-hour, overnight period – no police, no hospital admissions, and no questions regarding whatever anger, revenge, or evil one wants to “purge.” In an interview here in Philadelphia last April, Jason Blum, founder and CEO of Blumhouse Productions, answered questions about the film and indulge me in a couple of special MMT inquiries.
Okay first question, very serious, (who do you like better) Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees?
(Jason laughs) Mike Myers, I think. You too? (as I nod in agreement) Yeah, I like that.
What made you go with a thriller vs. horror?
I see it as a horror-thriller, there are scary moments in it. What I really like doing with our company is make low-cost movies…that way we have total creative control. The movies are not made by committee, they’re made by the directors (and) they’re exactly the movies the directors want to make. And we like them to be movies that will be widely released, and go to the cineplex (versus) the arthouse. With that combination (low budget-wide release), mostly what we do is horror. We’re trying to take our model and tip-toe it to the corners of horror, which is how I would describe this movie.
Your company is director driven, and all films have been original. Would you consider producing remakes?
We would. We’re doing our first remake now, we start in three weeks. It’s called “The Town that Dreaded Sundown,” and it was a movie that MGM made in the 70’s. But, I don’t think remakes are so terrible. Stories get reinvented all the time. I think if you have a new spin on something that’s been done it’s (not) sacrilegious to do it again.
With a graphic and no holds barred depiction, The Purge challenges the audiences’ views on aggression and violence in American culture. Jason described how the film was screened for people with opposing political views and their subsequent, unanticipated responses. “We’ve shown it to right-wing people and left-wing people, and both sides say the movie affirms their beliefs. Right-wing people are like that’s why government should stay out of people’s lives, and left-wing people are like the purge (concept) is the worst thing in the world.” Jason states that The Purge is “a very violent movie that condemns violence,” and hopes that people will take that away after viewing, and that the movie will “keep people chatting.”
I think the premise is novel, and really enjoyed the story. The film is not for the squeamish, it’s bloody violent, but if you can appreciate a good thrill The Purge is a great movie choice this weekend. I believe it definitely will keep people chatting, and if you see it in the right theater, there will be some chatting during the film I’m sure, it’s that kind of movie!
Directed by James DeMonaco (writer of Assault on Precinct 13 and The Negotiator), The Purge is produced by Jason Blum of Blumhouse Productions (producer of the groundbreaking Paranormal Activity franchise, Insidious, and Sinister), Platinum Dunes’ partners Michael Bay, Brad Fuller and Andrew Form (The Amityville Horror, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), as well as Sébastien Kurt Lemercier (Assault on Precinct 13). The film stars Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey, Adelaide Kane, Max Burkholder, & Edwin Hodge. You can check out the trailer below and find out more about the film at www.blumhouse.com/film/thepurge.
Side notes: Jason mentioned that Blumhouse has produced an erotic thriller called Plush, co-written and directed by Catherine Hardwicke, which is currently in post-production. And for my old school horror fans, he also chose Leatherface and Pinhead over Kruger and Pumpkinhead respectively. Shout out to the old heads and horror fans who can appreciate those references!
Remember to stop back and share your thoughts if you go see the movie! Until next thought, Thomasena