Jason Blum says that he can't seem to put his finger on why horror movies are ignored by the Academy. Blum is the father of Blumhouse Productions, a production company known for producing micro-budgeted horror films that go on to break the bank. Blumhouse Productions doesn't just churn out your typical small-budget horror films though, but constantly strives to push the envelope and change the game.
Many of the great horror films that have come out over the past decade have been birthed by Blumhouse Productions. James Wan's Insidious and found footage franchise Paranormal Activity, come to mind. More recently, Blumhouse Productions' movies like M. Night Shyamalan's comeback film Split and Jordan Peele's directorial debut Get Out, have transcended the horror genre and garnered acclaim even from people who aren't horror fans.
This year may have been the best in Blum's storied career, with two of his biggest movies, the aforementioned Split and Get Out receiving Oscar buzz. Despite Split and Get Out's strong critical ratings and approval by fans, pundits worry that the movies won't receive the Oscar recognition they deserve, simply because they're horror films. Even Blum is confused, wondering why the Academy doesn't nominate horror movies. Screen Rant asked Blum why the Academy tends to shy away from horror films. Blum answered:
"You know what, I don’t know because I was going to say because people tend to shy away from the violence, but the truth is there are super violent movies that are nominated for Academy Awards, they’re just rarely horror films or they haven’t been horror films in a long time. Maybe they think they’re gross or something. I don’t know, that’s a good question. I don’t know. But you’re right."
Many critics believe that Split should receive some sort of recognition by The Academy, especially in the acting department, since James McAvoy masterfully played nine different characters. Get Out, on the other hand, is a completely different beast. When the film was first announced, it didn't catch the attention of many. After all, a comedian making his directorial debut in the horror genre sounded like a disaster waiting to happen. The film didn't have a strong marketing campaign either (probably due to its limited budget). But once it hit the big screens, Get Out became an international phenomenon. Strong word of mouth and near perfect critic ratings propelled this $4.5 million budget movie to gross more than $252 million worldwide. A staggering achievement to say the least.
Blum may be onto something with his comments. While violent movies have been recognized in the past, over the years, the Academy has shown that they prefer giving the victory to films with happier endings, rather than the grittier, more violent/depressing ones. Which could explain why Forrest Gump was given the Best Picture Oscar over Pulp Fiction, or why Apocalypto didn't get nominated in the Best Picture category, or why David Fincher films (besides The Social Network) hardly get recognized by the Academy despite critical acclaim. However, an argument can be made against that as well, since the extremely violent Braveheart won Best Picture in 1996.
That said, Blum's second point may be closer to the actual truth. Perhaps horror films don't get Oscar recognition simply because they're horror films. One of the only horror films to have ever gotten recognition by the Academy (in the bigger categories) is M. Night Shyamalan's The Sixth Sense. But, many argue that it's not even a horror film to begin with. There is a stigma attached to horror films. Many think that horror movies are nothing but cheap cash grabs - substanceless jump-scare fests. While it's easy to see why people would think that, it doesn't represent all horror films. Films like Get Out and Split have proven that there are great stories to be told, even in the horror genre.
Blum also went on to mention that he's on the Academy board: "I am on the Academy and I definitely plan on voting for myself [laughs]. I think we have a real shot at certain categories [for Get Out], perhaps the writing category. I hope so!" This year has been great for horror films, especially for Blumhouse Productions. With critics and fans championing Get Out, the Academy just might pull an unorthodox move and nominate this horror movie in one of the major categories: writing, directing, acting and Best Picture.
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