Vassar Quarterly - Spring/Summer 2017 - 33
ordan Peele's wildly popular film Get Out, in
which a black fine arts photographer is introduced for the first time to his white girlfriend's
suburban parents during a weekend getaway,
has been described as a cross between the
socially conscious Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
and the creepy Stepford Wives. The breakout film was
both a top box-office draw in early 2017 and a critical
success, receiving a rare score of 99 on Rotten Tomatoes.
Critics like the New York Times' Manohla Dargis praised
the strength and insight of Peele's writing and directing.
That it was Peele's debut film made the accomplishment
even more impressive.
The powerhouse producer who saw Get Out's potential? Jason Blum '91, CEO and founder of Blumhouse
Portrait, Jason LaVeris-FilmMagic-GettyImages /Film stills courtesy of Blumhouse Productions
FEATURES LIKE GET OUT HAVE HELPED
BLUM'S STAR TO RISE-HE WAS NAMED ONE
OF TIME MAGAZINE'S "100 MOST
INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE" THIS YEAR-BUT
HE'S NOT RESTING ON HIS LAURELS.
"First and foremost, I wanted to work with Jordan.
He is just an incredibly talented, smart, original voice,"
says Blum. "And he wrote a script that was unlike anything I had read before. It was everything that I look for
in a script-unique, original, and fresh-and it combined
all the best elements of a scary movie with a really
Best known as the producer of such popular horror
franchises as Insidious, The Purge, and Paranormal
Activity, as well as the Oscar award-winning Whiplash,
Blum has mastered the low-budget horror hit. But he
says he looks for projects that have a deeper meaning
beyond their entertainment value.
"Scary movies let you tell interesting, serious
stories that shine a light on our culture. So, if you can
do that effectively and mirror your storytelling with
what's going on in the culture, a film can really resonate."
The Purge, for example, plays with class division,
Whiplash examines the cost of genius, and Get Out
explores some white Americans' competing impulses
to reject and emulate blacks. Such culturally conscious
projects help to raise the profile of horror films, attracting
those who might not have been drawn to the genre
before, Blum says. "It's definitely been a nice moment
and [Get Out] has brought new people into the genre."
There's no denying that such features have helped
Blum's star to rise-he even made Time magazine's
list of "the 100 most influential people" this year (his
tribute was written by none other than mega-producer
Harvey Weinstein, his former boss).
Blum is not resting on his laurels, however. He
released another talked-about movie this year-the
M. Night Shyamalan thriller Split, which features
the actor James McAvoy as a man with 23 personalities
who abducts and terrorizes three teenage girls. Audiences can look forward to Blum's Insidious: Chapter 4
coming out next year, as well as several television
projects, including two mini-series-one about the
former Fox News chief, the late Roger Ailes, and the
other an HBO series called Sharp Objects, starring Amy
Adams and based on the eponymous novel by
bestselling author Gillian Flynn.
Top: In a scene from Get Out,
the central character, Chris
Washington, gets acquainted
with his girlfriend's suburban
parents. Bottom: This terrifying image graced the movie
posters, helping to guarantee
a blockbusting run.
-Elizabeth Randolph with
additional reporting by Debbie Swartz
VA S S A R Q u A R T E R LY