Horror is experiencing a new wave of success at the box office thanks to the likes of IT and A Quiet Place. For fans of the genre, many are aware of the impact that Blumhouse Productions has had on filmmaking. While Jason Blum’s studio wasn't involved with either of the aforementioned success stories, Blumhouse's regular stream of low-budget, high-concept films have redefined the genre’s relationship with Hollywood and illuminated a path forward for filmmakers, studios, and directors to keep on taking chances.
Previous horror movies were often dismissed by awarding bodies and mainstream audiences alike, no matter how well they were made. That all began to change when Blumhouse Productions hit the ground running with their first movie, Paranormal Activity, which helped pave the way for subsequent releases that gained critical acclaim and even some Oscar nominations along the way.
Like the boogeymen who haunt our nightmares, Blumhouse Productions keeps returning to our screens stronger than ever. Now that Halloween is just around the corner, it's the perfect time to look back at 10 of its best movies so far.
Paranormal Activity (2009)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83 percent
Plot Synopsis: After they start to hear some bumps in the night, a young couple decides to set up cameras in their new home to catch any supernatural occurrences on tape. However, things take a dark turn when they try to converse with the spirits via the Ouija board.
Why You Should See It: Filmed with a budget of just $15,000, Oren Peli’s debut feature came out of nowhere and terrified audiences worldwide with a new spin on the found footage genre. The numerous sequels, prequels, and spin-offs vary in quality, but none of them match the raw horror of the first Paranormal Activity.
Get Out (2017)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 99 percent
Plot Synopsis: Most people find it daunting to meet their girlfriend’s parents for the first time, but Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) has genuine cause for concern after a weekend at the family home turns into a nightmare of violent prejudice.
Why You Should See It: Few films have ever combined comedy and terror to such a high standard, all while exploring the very real social issues that ground Jordan Peele’s directing debut with horrors that are painfully real. It’s no wonder then that Get Out received four thoroughly deserved nominations at the Oscars, including a win for Best Adapted Screenplay.
The Gift (2015)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92 percent
Plot Synopsis: A chance encounter with an old schoolmate turns the lives of Simon (Jason Bateman) and Robyn (Rebecca Hall) upside down, forcing the couple to confront a dark secret that will forever change how they look at one another.
Why You Should See It: Smarter than the majority of thrillers out there now, Joel Edgerton’s directorial debut is full of surprises, so it’s best to approach this one with as little knowledge as possible. Just know that everything from the lead performances to that final twist at the end will leave you shook to your core by the time the credits roll.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96 percent
Plot Synopsis: Low on cash, Aaron (Patrick Brice) answers an online ad that asks him to film a stranger in a remote location. Josef (Mark Duplass) seems sincere at first, but it soon becomes clear that he’s more unhinged than Aaron could have ever imagined.
Why You Should See It: It takes a lot to make found-footage movies stand out from the pack these days, but Creep is truly disturbing thanks to its slow-burn script and a captivating performance from Duplass that proves low-budget movies can unsettle the most if handled right.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 66 percent
Plot Synopsis: After their son falls into a coma, Josh (Patrick Wilson) and Renai (Rose Byrne) do everything they can to help the boy even as malevolent forces from the past begin to gather in their home.
Why You Should See It: An early hit for Blumhouse, the first Insidious movie kick-started a whole new mythology that elevated the creators of Saw to dizzying heights in the realm of horror. Together, director James Wan and screenwriter Leigh Whannell combine a never-ending stream of jittery jump scares with one of the most terrifying creations of the decade in the form of the Red Face Demon. Just ignore what everyone says about the final act.
Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 82 percent
Plot Synopsis: In 1967 Los Angeles, widowed mother Alice Zander (Elizabeth Reaser) transforms her séance scam business into something all too real when she accidentally invites an evil spirit into her home, one who seems rather fascinated with her youngest daughter Doris (Lulu Wilson).
Why You Should See It: While the first Ouija failed to muster genuine scares, this prequel is far more terrifying than any prequel has the right to be, incorporating elements of period dramas and haunted house features with the outright horror of exorcism movies. On top of that, Ouija: Origin of Evil is also worth watching for a star-making performance from child actor Lulu Wilson who later impressed further in Annabelle: Creation.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94 percent
Plot Synopsis: Haunted by his father’s failed writing career, Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller) seeks fame as an ambitious jazz drummer whose passion spirals as his teacher (J.K. Simmons) pushes the young man further than either of them expected to go.
Why You Should See It: While Whiplash isn’t the kind of horror fodder that Blumhouse fans might be used to, the film matches the studio’s best output in terms of sheer intensity thanks to a breakout performance from Teller and the Oscar-winning Simmons. Director Damien Chazelle went on to direct the acclaimed hit La La Land after this, but Whiplash is arguably his best film still and remains a shining star in the Blumhouse wheelhouse.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 63 percent
Plot Synopsis: True crime novelist Ellison Oswalt discovers a box of murderous home movies in his attic that opens his family up to a demonic nightmare that no one can escape from, no matter how hard they try.
Why You Should See It: Ethan Hawke’s recent dive into horror remains most effective here in the first Sinister movie, which contained some genuinely disturbing scenes that twist the genre’s convention in surprisingly creepy ways. In particular, anyone who watches this film will never forget that lawnmower scene.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 74 percent
Plot Synopsis: Compelled to abduct young women by one of his many dissociative personalities, Kevin (James McAvoy) is already a frightening force to be reckoned with, but there might be something even more terrifying hidden within, something that could cost Casey Cooke (Anya Taylor-Joy) her life.
Why You Should See It: The once-great filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan seemed to be down for the count after a string of commercial and critical flops, but his partnership with Blumhouse reinvigorated his career, helping him produce The Visit and then Split, which firmly put his work back on the map. Come to see James McAvoy’s acting tour de force as he navigates multiple personalities at once and stay for the twist ending that opens the world of Split up to whole new possibilities.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94 percent
Plot Synopsis: After losing her hearing at a young age, author Maddie Young (Kate Siegel) has retreated into isolation, but her seclusion is shattered one day when a masked killer attacks, setting the stage for a silent game of cat and mouse.
Why You Should See It: Director Mike Flanagan has risen to become one of the best and most prolific horror directors of the moment, but not even the likes of Gerald’s Game and Oculus can match the inventiveness of Hush, which harkens back to the golden age of ‘80s slasher movies in a thoroughly modern setting.
For more horror content, check out 10 other films we highly recommend.