The Lazarus Effect: Jason Blum on the Oscars, Jem and The Purge
CraveOnline: But this film, The Lazarus Effect… I was watching this film and I was thinking to myself, “Has there ever been a movie where someone came back from the dead and it was awesome?”
Jason Blum: The Wizard of Oz. [Laughs.] I mean, that’s a dream. It’s not death!
There’s always a qualifier. I was thinking The Search for Spock, but then Kirk’s son dies and they blow up a planet. There’s a lot of downsides.
You don’t want to fuck with being dead. There’s a reason people die, and I think one of the things I think is effective about the movie – and I think this about Ouija too – is that… Ouija, whether you believe in it or don’t, most people don’t believe in it obviously, but there are a lot of people who say about a Ouija board, “I don’t believe in that but I’m not fucking doing it.”
I think that’s cool. I think that there’s tempting fate… whether you tempt fate around a Ouija board or playing around with life and death, it makes people uneasy, and when people are uneasy you can scare them.
“Playing around with life and death, it makes people uneasy, and when people are uneasy you can scare them.”
Uneasiness often comes from something unfamiliar, and yet films like Ouija and The Lazarus Effect, there’s a precedent for them. The Lazarus Effect, we’ve had Frankenstein obviously. Ouija, we had Witchboard. A little less popular than Frankenstein but it had been done. What do you do when you know that there’s a precedent for a horror story?
Like, Frankenstein for Lazarus, [specifically]?
Yeah. What’s your main goal?
The main goal is to try and distinguish it so that people doing say you’re ripping something off. To try to make it feel different. I feel like The Lazarus Effect works. I mean, definitely Frankenstein is what the model for that story is, of bringing someone back to life and then turning into a monster. But I feel like it doesn’t feel anything like the Frankenstein I saw when I was a little kid. [Laughs.]
When you introduced the movie last night you said you didn’t quite see it, that this guy who directed Jiro Dreams of Sushi would make a horror movie. What is that convinced you?
First of all, we didn’t hire him. David [Gelb] was attached to the script when it came through our door. So the question then is, why would you proceed? And I was, like I said last night, very trepidatious about proceeding. We developed and developed and developed. Then Mark (Duplass) and Olivia (Wilde)… I think Mark came first and Olivia came second, but they came pretty quickly.
And the answer to your question is, if I have Mark Duplass and Olivia, [in] a genre movie not an art movie, first time [horror] director, for scale? Three strikes. So very unlikely that someone in Mark’s place in the world or Olivia’s place in the world would say “yes” to this movie. But both of them read the script, both of them were intrigued, both of them sat with David, and both of them committed to the movie after that meeting, despite the three strikes.
I’m saying “three strikes.” They wouldn’t necessarily say “three strikes” to that but I’m saying “three strikes.” That made me say, you know what? Let’s go make this movie, turn it from development into production. Now that is not a foolproof method but I felt confident enough after that to give David a shot, and it doesn’t always happen. I’ve had not great experiences with first-time directors but this was excellent.