Speak No Evil and Blair Witch Project Remakes: Blumhouse Risks Repeating the Horror Genre Mistakes It Once Fixed

The House of Blum is making a massive horror land grab, which includes a bunch of franchises, remakes and sequels.

James McAvoy in Speak No Evil
Photo: Universal Pictures

Under $5 million; no first time directors (unless there’s a named producer); actually good. These used to be the tenets by which Blumhouse built its name. But oh how things have changed. It’s looking increasingly like the little studio that could is making a land grab for virtually every property in horror-dom. 

The latest trailer to drop from Blumhouse is for Speak No Evil, a remake of the 2022 Danish film of the same name which caused a big buzz when it hit Shudder for being so utterly and depressingly grim. Blumhouse snapped it up and cast James McAvoy, star of Blumhouse movies Split and Glass, as the central psycho. James Waktins who made similarly nasty and misanthropic horror Eden Lake has directed and the film is set to release in September. That is a pretty speedy turnaround as these things go, but Blumhouse always was agile. McAvoy is good but when was the last time you heard anyone say “the American remake was better”? Speak No Evil will be distributed via Universal which has an ongoing deal with Blumhouse.

Then there’s the news that Blumhouse has now struck a multi-film deal with Lionsgate after working with them on Imaginary. The new deal will begin with another Blair Witch movie. The original was a low budget masterpiece released in 1999 and spawned a sequel in 2001 and a reboot (which was also a sequel) in 2016. So we’re getting more Blair Witch. It’s not clear what else might be included in the deal, but Lionsgate has already expressed interest in rebooting American Psycho and The Dead Zone.

Meanwhile Blumhouse is already rebooting various Universal monsters—-we’ve had the Invisible Man, and Wolfman is next. It’s already done Halloween and The Exorcist. A reboot of The Thing has long been rumored. And earlier in the year a merger was announced between Blumhouse and James Wan’s Atomic Monster, which means Blumhouse is now partnered with the minds behind the Conjuring Universe too.

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“I look at myself more as an entrepreneur than a producer,” Blum said while describing himself to Den of Geek back in March 2020 when The Invisible Man was about to hit cinemas (little did we know what was about to happen). He, like everyone, has had to pivot, though Blumhouse is fast becoming the Disney of horror franchises. Sony has 28 Years Later upcoming. Paramount has A Quiet Place: Day One incoming. The First Omen was Disney (and is actually good, so you can keep your paws off that one Blum!) while Radio Silence’s Abigail, distributed by Universal, is both original and great. And of course we still have A24, thank goodness. But Blumhouse really does have the lion’s share.

After some good years of original horror, many of which Blumhouse was behind including Insidious, Paranormal Activity, The Purge, and of course the magnificent Get Out, we find ourselves drifting into 2000s era Platinum Dunes territory where every ’70s and ‘80s franchise was being remade, and largely speaking, badly. This was also the era when U.S. remakes of J-horror movies were rife and most of the original horror titles were found footage clones of other better movies. While the horror genre seems more popular and respected than ever, it has not been immune to chasing the perceived stability of intellectual property 

Blumhouse was a breath of fresh air in the 2000s proving original, creator lead horror was not only popular and profitable but could also be genuinely excellent – Blum’s a man that loves the genre. But the latter two Halloween films were cynical nonsense and the Exorcist prequel was rubbish. Jason Blum is not Michael Bay. But the way things are going it’s possible the house of Blum will create a horror franchise monster, not far from the one it thwarted in the 2000s.