STACK chats with prolific producer and horror specialist Jason Blum about his reimagination of the 1996 teen-witch thriller as The Craft: Legacy.
If Jason Blum established a boys club within his low budget male-directed horror film empire – initially spearheaded by The Purge, Paranormal Activity and Insidious franchises – then last year’s Black Christmas, directed by Sophia Takal, marked his first foray into female-directed film.
Today Blumhouse delivers its second female-helmed horror film with Zoe Lister-Jones’ teen witchcraft movie, The Craft: Legacy.
A reboot of 1996’s The Craft, this new film’s “coven” features talented young actors Cailee Spaeny, Lovie Simone, Zoe Luna and Gideon Adlon, alongside seasoned pros, David Duchovny and Michelle Monaghan.
Blum didn’t hesitate in hiring Lister-Jones. “It was hard for me to imagine doing The Craft directed by a man,” he says, despite the original movie being directed by Andrew Fleming; the reboot featuring a nod and a wink to one of the film’s original stars, Fairuza Balk. “It would have been tough for a man to convince me that they were the right person for the job in a reimagining of The Craft. It’s so much about female empowerment, that it would have been weird if a man had done it.”
In hiring Lister-Jones, he opened the door to an almost entirely female crew. “I visited the set in Canada and I was really into it. She told me she wanted to hire a female crew and I was very supportive of that.
“There were no problems on set, I’ll say that,” he adds. “If there were problems I would have heard about it. Women should be running the country.”
With three witchcraft experts hired during The Craft: Legacy’s production, Blum confesses he didn’t personally meet with any of them. Considering his own horror legacy, netting him multi-millions at the box-office, he does admit to recently meeting with an Ivy-educated supernatural expert. “I’m curious about it but I don’t want to get too close. I’ve been invited to exorcisms but I’ve never gone,” he says, citing how horror movies are usually the happiest sets while comedy sets can oftentimes be quite dark.
“One of the reasons I love horror movies is that we have a sense of humour about what we’re doing. Most of my sets are pretty fun and I think The Craft was no exception.”
If this journalist has personally interviewed countless horror movie casts – all recounting their own spooky on-set experiences – then Blum is circumspect. “The spookiest thing I’ve ever encountered was a real-life home invasion. I don’t want to say more than that, but that was the weirdest thing that ever happened to me.”
When STACK talks with Blum, 51, his high-intensity energy is palpable even over Zoom as he talks animatedly from an armchair in his home library. Undeniably charming, it’s easy to see how he has become accustomed to getting his own way, something he does by gentle persuasion rather than utilising strong-arm tactics.
Take, for instance, recruiting David Duchovny for The Craft: Legacy. The X-Files and Californication star is known for his dislike of horror films or playing the bad guy, yet Blum persuaded him to do both.
“Well he changed his mind!” he laughs. “We met in New York about 18 months ago. It was the first time I’d ever met him and we had a great meeting and talked about all sorts of things and he said, ‘I wanna be in one of your movies!’ The Craft people thought that was great and I didn’t have to twist David’s arm because he was really into it and does a great job in the movie,” he tells us, noting how Blumhouse has a big casting department, considered unusual for a production company.
“Getting David on board was my only casting contribution to The Craft: Legacy. We’re big believers that scary movies don’t work unless you have great actors, so we have a list of people we like that we work with over and over again.”
Given how Blumhouse’s fare includes many remakes, he’s learned to tread cautiously, going to great pains to include previous creative teams, involving John Carpenter in his Halloween reboots and, today, inviting The Craft’s original director-writer Andrew Fleming onboard in an executive producer capacity.
“I thought it was very generous of Andrew to come and join us in this,” he says. “I think if you’re re-imagining someone’s work, it’s the right thing to do, to get them involved. I wouldn’t say I would never do it unless the originator was involved, because there’s actually one thing that I’m about to do where the originator won’t do it but, I always try, like I did with Halloween where I went to John and said, ‘I don’t really want to do Halloween again unless you join us as executive producer’, so that’s how I always think about it.”
If Blum has been slow to embrace female directors, then there’s no denying what he’s done for the careers of veteran actresses Jamie Lee Curtis and Lin Shaye. “I love Lin and I also have a great partnership with Jamie Lee Curtis. With Halloween, we had the most successful opening of an actress her age.”
In Blumhouse’s early years of domination, Blum was frequently described as Hollywood’s “disrupter”, but when you suggest that today he may represent the establishment, he sighs. “Oh no! Don’t say that. The day I become the establishment is the day I die!”
• The Craft: Legacy is in cinemas (and Victorian drive-ins) on October 29.