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DVD Interview: Jason Blum on Truth or Dare

Kyle Milner talks to the new king of horror Jason Blum (“Halloween”, “The Purge”) about the home entertainment release of “Happy Death Day”

Kyle Milner

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There’s no denying that the Emmy award-winning film producer and Blumhouse Productions founder and CEO Jason Blum is one of the most successful and exciting names in the movie business.

From the wild success of micro-budget found-footage horror flick “Paranormal Activity” in 2009 – which raked in over $193 million at the global box office on a $15,000 budget and spawned multiple sequels – to Academy Award-winning films like “Whiplash” and “Get Out” and even television with the Amy Adams-lead miniseries “Sharp Objects” currently airing on HBO, Blum is clearly a force to be reckoned with.

One of Blum’s latest is “Truth or Dare”, a horror film in which a group of college students become trapped in a deadly and supernatural game of “truth or dare” while on vacation in Mexico. Starring Lucy Hale (“Pretty Little Liars”) and Tyler Posey (“Teen Wolf”), the students must confront their greatest fears to avoid becoming the game’s latest victims. Moviehole were lucky enough to get the chance to speak with Jason ahead of the film’s home video release.

Hi Jason, thank you very much for taking the time to speak to me!

Jason: My pleasure, thank you.

I think “Truth or Dare” has a very simple and fun concept behind it. From what I understand, it began as just the title and spiraled out from there, conceptually. Can you tell me a bit more about its beginnings as a project?

Jason: Yeah, you know, it was while we were doing “Ouija”, and the head of marketing at Universal gave us the title and said, “if you can make a good movie with this title, we could market it”. And that is kind of unusual.

I get compared to Roger Corman a lot, that’s a very Roger Corman-esque thing to do. I always maintain that I love Roger Corman, but our process is very different than his. Although this was a very Roger Corman thing – we come up with a title, and then can we come up with a great movie?

We were lucky enough to work with Jeff Wadlow, who wrote and directed the movie, and came up with what I thought was a very clever idea and a very clever way to do it. With any luck, we’ll get to do another one with him.

Yeah, absolutely – I think that’s a really cool way to go about things.

‘Truth or dare’, as a childhood game, I think is one that most people probably would’ve played in their childhood – or maybe even adults, if they’ve had a couple of drinks. What is it about childhood games that seems so effective as inspiration for the horror genre?

Jason: Yeah, there are a lot of them. “Ouija”, which we also did. I think, though, kids like to tell ghost stories. And they like to play games, and try to summon ghosts to scare them – to get themselves scared. And I always think the things that make the scariest movies are things that are grounded and things that come from reality.

And so, the idea – it’s a very satisfying notion, the idea of going to see a movie about kids who play one of these many games, and the game actually works. Clearly, in real life, the games don’t work. At least, not as far as I’ve heard.

So it’s fun to imagine what would happen if they actually did conjure a ghost or spirit or (have it) go wrong, and you’ve pissed off the demons in the world. I think that’s why the movies are so satisfying.

Exactly – to see something from your childhood played out on the big screen in a particularly terrifying way is super fun.

Something that really stands out in my mind since watching the film, is the digital effect that was used to achieve some really creepy imagery – the morphing of the actors’ faces. Was that something that was in there early in production on Jeff’s behalf?

Jason: It was an idea that Jeff had, and what I really thought that was so great about it was that it was so simple. And I always think the best — I’m not a big fan of effects, generally. But I think if you’re going to use effects, the best way is, “a little goes a long way”. We didn’t have that conversation, but he clearly felt the same way. And what I love about that little effect is that it’s so small and so subtle, but it’s very powerful, and I haven’t seen it before.

Truth or Dare, like a lot of movies you produce – and you’ve produced a lot of movies – has seen success at the box office on what’s a pretty humble budget by Hollywood standards. Were there any ways in particular with this film where Jeff really had to get creative to work within the budget and the scope of the film?

Jason: The movie itself, it’s a big movie packaged into a small DCP, a small file. Or a small budget. And I would say it’s always a struggle to get our movies to the budgets that I’m comfortable shooting on. This one was a bigger struggle than most. We had reduced – I think it only took a week or maybe even a little bit more than a week, maybe seven or eight days out of the schedule. We crushed locations. We did a lot of massaging to fit our shape, and Jeff was very agreeable about it. But I think that too makes for a better movie. I think that forces us as film-makers to really edit before you shoot, and choose the most important parts, and spend your time and money on those parts. But this movie was a real challenge in that department.

Yeah, I find that a lot of my favorite horror movies – and just movies in general – have definitely had a lot of production issues, or being limited in what they’re able to do. And that really seems to bring out the best in people, or sometimes the worst in people. But that seemed to work out really well with “Truth or Dare”.

Sorry to put you on the spot, but if you had to play Truth or Dare – and I’m talking this movie’s version of the game – what would you say is probably one of your biggest personal fears that you’d hate to be forced to face as a dare?

Jason: The first thing that comes to mind is heights. I don’t have a wild fear of heights, but that would be very unsettling to me – if you forced me to jump out of a plane with a parachute, or something like that. That would be very scary to me.

I also make scary movies about ghosts. I’ve made so many movies about ghosts, I think I’m less scared of ghosts than I was. [laughs]

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Caffeinated Clint’s Ten Favourite Films of 2018

And also his least favourite films of the year!

Caffeinated Clint

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I don’t know that it was a great year for movies – in fact, most of the films I’d been anticipating bit me like a leech on the testicle – but that doesn’t mean there still wasn’t some tasty meat in between the pellets. For every “Jurassic World : Fallen Kingdom” there was a “Blackkklansman”, and for every [Insert Amy Schumer Movie Title] Here there was “Boy Erased”. Studios stuck to the recent norm of putting style over substance when it came to their tentpoles, leaving so many of the hotly anticipated and unyieldingly-promoted fare from the likes of chafing disappointments, but those major independent labels and artistic auteurs more than made up for any bugs in the system, smearing MacAfee virus removal all over the marquee with their distinct, diverse and surprisingly unique offerings.

The year’s biggest surprise  – if only because it was a project that had been simmering away for the better part of fifteen years, losing director after director, leads after leads – was undoubtedly “A Star is Born”, which not only introduced audiences to ‘up and coming’ actress Lady Gaga, whose name will now be firmly cemented in cinema as much as it’s been in music, but also tyro director Bradley Cooper, who took on a discarded Eastwood project and put his own unique and powerful spin on it. Sure, it’s a story we’d seen time and time again (in fact, this is the fourth version of “A Star is Born”), but it was the chemistry of the leads, those dynamite performances, and the emotion carved into the libretto that kept critics and audiences hooked.

Like Cooper, freshman director Joel Edgerton also hit it out of the park this year with his turn behind the camera – “Boy Erased”. What a film that was. Just sublime. Powerful stuff.

On the no-surprise front, the always-dependable “Mission : Impossible” franchise continued to impress – is it the only series that actually improves as it goes on!? – just as much as its headline act, Tom Cruise, does with the most entertaining, most skilled blockbuster of the year “Fallout”. Featuring a killer turn from Henry Cavill as its hulking villain, eye-popping stunts and action sequences, and endless reminders why Tom Cruise is still the most bankable box-office star of our times, sixth time was the charm for the now 22-year-old movie franchise.

If one genre had the monopoly on the ‘best of’ list this year it was the family category, with everything from Paramount’s “Bumblebee”, Pixar’s “The Incredibles 2” and “Ralph Breaks the Internet”, and Sony Animation’s “Spider-Man : Into the Spider-Verse” all topping most live-action fare when it comes to sheer storytelling, allure and uniqueness. Seems the computer maketh some awesome filmeth!

Also very solid, the superhero movie fare of 2018 – sure, there were the fun, enjoyable time-passers like “Deadpool 2” and “Aquaman” but at the top end of the scale were some truly magnificent pieces, like the ground-breaking and exceedingly breathtaking “Black Panther” from Marvel.

Bearing in mind I’m still to catch up with quite a few movies that have made most Top Ten lists (including “If Beale Street Could Talk”, “Green Book”, “Suspiria” and “First Reformed”) here are my top ten favourite movies of 2018 :

 

A Star is Born

Mission : Impossible  – Fallout

Boy Erased

Blackkklansman

A Quiet Place

Black Panther

Ralph Breaks the Internet

Avengers : Infinity War

Game Night

The Incredibles 2

 

Runners-Up : Annihilation, Bumblebee, Spider-Man : Into the Spider-Verse, Ant-Man & The Wasp

 

And, for me, these were the least enjoyable films of the year…

 

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Super Troopers 2

Holmes & Watson

I Feel Pretty

Truth or Dare

Oceans 8

Skyscraper

Gotti

The Predator

Jurassic World : Fallen Kingdom

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Apparently Sinbad stars in the new Aladdin?

Don’t worry, he’ll be a Man in Blue come summer 2019

Caffeinated Clint

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The Fresh Prince of Blue Heir.

Disney have unveiled a first look at Will Smith’s Genie from the upcoming live-action (in case you haven’t heard, that’s the latest thing Disney have dampened their undies for lately) ‘Aladdin’, and I gotta tell you, it is absolutely beautiful to see such full those hearts at Christmastime… as evident in social media responses.

For the record, and if it helps with the eye chafing, the character will be ‘blue’ in the finished film. Mike Lowery said it himself. In other words, the movie is going to be the shizzle. All it needs is a blue genie, after all. Right!?

Some other pics from the upcoming flick are below, but first, a new photo from Disney’s upcoming “Lion King” adaptation – here’s Mufasa.

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We’ve got your first look at Deadwood the movie!

First pics feature Ian McShane and Timothy Olyphant; executive producer talks storyline

Caffeinated Clint

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Sayin’ questions in that tone and pointin’ your finger at me will get you told to **** yourself.

Christmas comes early for “Deadwood” fans with the first pics from the long-awaited film version – releasing – hitting the online distraction service today.

There’s Ian McShane, hardly aged a day, looking as devilish as ever as saloon owner Al Swearingen, and also our first look at a slightly older but even slightly more distinguished Seth Bullock, now a U.S Marshal, played by Timothy Olyphant.

Also returning from the HBO series : Molly Parker (Alma Ellsworth), Paula Malcomson (Trixie), John Hawkes (Sol Star), Anna Gunn (Martha Bullock), Dayton Callie (Charlie Utter), Brad Dourif (Doc Cochran), Robin Weigert (“Calamity” Jane Canary), William Sanderson (E.B. Farnum), Kim Dickens (Joanie Stubbs) and Gerald McRaney (George Hearst).

They’ve been yakking about a movie version of “Deadwood” for quite some time – in fact, near as soon as the show was cancelled, at the conclusion of its third season. It’s taken a number of years to get together, largely because of cast scheduling, but the photos above prove it’s finally a reality.

”Tim was pretty tough. I will say he really dug in — in a good way, not a stubborn way — with good thoughts on where to take his character and the story and kept pushing on that, and they were helpful thoughts in terms of getting the script where it needed to be”, the film’s EP Carolyn Straus tells EW.

Series creator David Milch scripted the film, which airs sometime next year. It will reportedly be about time taking it’s toll on people.

“If you ask David, it’s about the passage of time”, says Straus. “The toll of time on people. It’s mellowed some people and hardened others. And it’s about the town’s maturing and becoming part of the Union and what that event sets in motion, in a very personal way for the people that it brings in town and what ensues. The toll of time has not just struck Deadwood and the characters but all the people making it as well, you get to see the faces of people 12 years later. And it was really profound. Actors were crying at the table read — not necessarily from the script but the emotion of being back and doing something we all loved doing so much. You normally have a great experience and then it’s over. You don’t normally get the chance to do this in life. It was kind of a gift.”

Swearingen has endured a lot since we last saw him, says Straus.

”The time has taken its greatest toll on Swearengen. He’s the person who really drove so much of the life of the town and there’s a sense of that power waning somewhat, and what ensues of that is a big part of the story.”

There was originally talk of two “Deadwood” movies – which Milch had said would wrap up the storylines left dangling after the series annulment – but at this stage, even if we only get the one, it’s one more than I think most of us assumed we’d ever get.

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