Arts

Four new scary films arriving on Amazon Prime Video in time for Halloween

Welcome to the Blumhouse is a collection of spine-tingling thrillers streaming on Amazon Prime in the run-up to Halloween. Cast members tell Georgia Humphreys what's spookin'

Mireille Enos and Peter Sarsgaard in The Lie

PARANORMAL Activity, Get Out, the 2020 remake of The Invisible Man; just a few of the memorable horror films made by Blumhouse Productions.

Fronted by Jason Blum, their features are famously low-budget but often end up being big box-office hits.

Their new project promises to have us all feeling very spooked out on our sofas, so grab some cushions to hide behind.

Welcome to the Blumhouse is a joint effort with Amazon Studios; a series of eight chilling films from a range of diverse and emerging film-makers, four of which – Black Box, The Lie, Evil Eye and Nocturne – will premiere on Prime Video in October, with the rest of the slate to be released in 2021.

They are all very different stories, told with a unique vision, but share a common theme – the idea of family and love as redemptive and destructive forces.

It’s the first thematically connected original series from Amazon – but which film will be your favourite? Here, we get the lowdown on each one from the stars themselves.

BLACK BOX

Mamoudou Athie stars in this thought-provoking horror as Nolan, a single father who, after losing his wife and his memory in a car accident, undergoes an agonising experimental treatment that causes him to question who he really is.

“I hadn’t played a character like this before, and especially upon meeting Emmanuel [Osei-Kuffour, director] I knew I wanted to work with him,” recalls the Mauritanian-American actor.

“It would have been my second leading role, so it was like, ‘Oh this is another kind of challenge’, especially in a genre space that I hadn’t existed in.”

Discussing the journey his character goes through, Athie is adamant he would do the same as Nolan, and do everything he could to find out who he is – even if it is a massive risk to take.

“Can you imagine, waking up and not knowing anything that you’re told you’re supposed to know so intimately? You’d lose your mind!” he exclaims.

“You’ve got to get to the bottom of that.”

THE LIE

You have been warned: there’s a massive twist at the end of The Lie. The psychological thriller, which stars Joey King, Mireille Enos, and Peter Sarsgaard, is about two desperate parents trying to cover up a horrific crime by their daughter, which leads them into a complicated web of lies and deception.

When getting into the headspace for these characters, did they find themselves thinking, ‘How would I react if I were those parents’?

“The idea of turning my daughter over to the authorities, I mean, I cannot imagine a world in which I would do that willingly,” muses Kansas City-born Enos (45).

“But again, I can’t imagine her ever, ever putting herself in that situation, so it’s just so hard.”

“I do know families where the child was an addict, for example, and them getting arrested and being put in jail was maybe like something that gave everybody a sense of relief and hope, because that seemed like the best place for them,” notes Illinois-born Sarsgaard (49). “There’s a million different permutations of these themes.”

As the world living through the coronavirus pandemic, it feels a bit like we are all living in our own sort of horror film.

With that in mind, do the cast think people can handle this genre better at the moment?

“Especially as horror fans, right now there is this craving for scary,” says 21-year-old King, who is from LA. “We are entering ‘spooky season’, and we are also living in the spookiest time alive.

“I think that either people are wanting to watch comedies or horror. I don’t feel like there’s a lot of in-between right now, like everyone either wants to feel super happy or wants to dig deeper in the way that they’re already feeling.”

EVIL EYE

Based on playwright Madhuri Shekar’s award-winning production, Evil Eye stars Sarita Choudhury, Sunita Mani and Omar Maskati.

It shows how a seemingly perfect romance turns into a nightmare when a mother becomes convinced that her daughter’s new boyfriend has a dark connection to her own past.

“The themes weren’t too clear, which I liked,” notes 54-year-old Choudhury, who was born in the UK.

“We knew in the plot what would happen, but the daughter-mother relationship, and then the daughter and her boyfriends’ relationships, when I read it I was like, ‘Oh, depending on how all those are played out, this movie could be many different movies’.”

“I love that there’s like an Indian romance in the forefront,” adds Tennessee-born Mani (34).

“It was weird as an actor to read that and be like, ‘Oh yeah, I have never seen this, I have never read this in America’, but also feel like it’s super universal but very specific to my background. There was a lot that was just clicking.”

Maskati, who was born in New Jersey, reflects on how he found the characters relatable too.

“I have those friends who are feeling the pressure of being almost thirty and unmarried and have mom and auntie and uncle and everybody being like, ‘When are you going to get married? Come on, what’s happening!'”

“So just knowing that world and that life and it was just cool to see it on the page in this form of a thriller and suspense with trauma.”

NOCTURNE

Sydney Sweeney and Madison Iseman dedicated a lot of time to their roles in Nocturne, which is set in an elite arts academy.

The story follows a timid music student who begins to outshine her more accomplished and outgoing twin sister when she discovers a mysterious notebook belonging to a recently deceased classmate.

“Being able to try and learn piano as fast as I could was super fun,” says Washington native Sweeney.

“Madi and I were at the instructors’ house every day for at least two weeks, for like 12 hours a day.”

Like all the films in the Welcome to the Blumhouse collection, Nocturne is a rollercoaster ride, full of intrigue and suspense, which Iseman thinks we all need right now to transport us away from the real world.

“I have always been the biggest horror movie fan,” says the actress, who hails from South Carolina.

“I like an escape from the world; I think that’s why I like horror movies so much because it’s like a jump of adrenaline, and then you can go back to your normal life.”

:: All available now on Amazon Prime Video.

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