What do you remember from Jurassic Park? Maybe the gorgeous first view of dinosaurs, or the gorgeous view of Jeff Goldblum. Most of the highlights, however, are close to horror. Hiding from velociraptors in the kitchen, the rampaging T-rex, the venom-spitting Dilophosaurus. The Jurassic Park movies are adventures first and foremost, but horror has always been part of the franchise DNA.
Now Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom really leans into the horror angle. That’s a perfect approach, as we love watching horror more now than ever before. By taking the film’s action away from an island and towards our home, there’s an opportunity to infuse horror deep into the Jurassic experience. Nothing is quite as scary as seeing monsters in familiar places, and that’s the key to Fallen Kingdom amping up its sense of horror.
(We won’t get into spoilers here; everything discussed below is in the film’s trailers.)
Fallen Kingdom begins like many of the Jurassic stories do – with a team heading to an island populated with genetically-recreated dinosaurs. In this case it’s Isla Nublar, the location from Jurassic World. It’s been abandoned by people since the conclusion of that film, but dinos still roam there.
When a volcano threatens to destroy everything on the island, Claire and Owen (Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Pratt) return to their old stomping ground to help rescue the remaining beasts. Eventually they end up back on the mainland, somewhere in California, with dinosaurs in tow.
In the meantime, a secretive group working with the geneticist Dr. Henry Wu has been breeding an all-new dinosaur optimized for use in military operations. So we’ve got old dinosaurs brought back to the mainland (bad idea) and a new military-oriented beast also away from the confinement of an island (super-bad idea). Want to guess what happens when they collide?
You don’t have to guess, as the trailers have shown us the new dinosaur, called the Indoraptor, menacing a young girl in her bedroom. Children being threatened by raptors is a core part of the Jurassic concept, but we’ve never seen this happen in the kid’s own home. The image of the raptor’s claw reaching out towards a cowering child is right out of Enlightenment art. It’s the monster we created reaching right into our child’s bedroom.
The new raptor doesn’t just teleport into that bedroom, either. The centerpiece of the latest Jurassic World movie is an extended game of cat and mouse – or raptor and human – as the creature explores the mansion in which much of the movie takes place. It’s one thing to see a vicious dinosaur crawling through the halls of a theme park, and quite another to see it navigating a space that we can understand as a home. The mansion also turns parts of Fallen Kingdom into gothic horror – when you see a raptor up on the roof, the way a vampire or other old Universal Monster might have appeared, the effect is primal.
Moving beyond that image, there’s also the pure horror of a massive creature created explicitly to fight as a weapon. The dinosaurs in previous Jurassic films are frightening enough, with their untamed nature and tremendous size. Factor in a design that specifies hunting humans from the beginning, and the people in this movie might not have a chance. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is pretty family-friendly, but it still has a violent edge. With millennia-old beasts brought back to life to run around in our modern world, you expect to see their teeth and claws going to work, and this film does not disappoint.
After all the events of Fallen Kingdom, there’s still the possibility that dinosaurs could be out in the American countryside. That would completely change the game for a third Jurassic World movie.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom opens on June 22.