Jurassic World: An Example of Genre Confusion

You may have heard about this reboot which is opening nationwide in the US tomorrow. You may have seen it advertised as an action/adventure film. You may be completely stoked to see hunky Chris Pratt playing with velociraptors. Or just to watch CGI dinos, if hunky Chris Pratt isn’t your thing. But I’m here to tell you right now – this film isn’t what you think it is.

I’m telling you, because often when people go to films that are suddenly a different genre than they expected (e.g. a drama veiled as a comedy in the previews), they get upset.

So you may be going expecting some spectacular action and general awesomeness in this film. And that’s all there.

But I’m telling you right now, it’s actually a horror movie.

Phil Parker, who is renowned in the screenwriting world for writing extremely helpful books for screenwriters (seriously, his books are awesome) defines the horror genre thus:

‘concerns itself with the fear of death and the fear of the unknown’ where there are ‘threats from groups of antagonists: the dead, the deranged and the unknown.’ (From “First Know Your Genre”)

****GET READY FOR SPOILERS****

Let’s take a look at this, shall we?

  • Fear of death: dinosaurs could eat us
  • Fear of the unknown: a genetically modified dinosaur could have capabilities we didn’t anticipate
  • Threats from deranged antagonist: genetically modified dinosaur ate its sibling and hunts for sport – clearly not behaving by natural instinct

And there you have it. Jurassic World is a horror movie.

Not convinced? Let’s take a look at some familiar horror movie tropes, all of which are contained in Jurassic World.

  1. Female protagonist slowly loses more and more clothes throughout the film though manages to keep her ridiculous heels for far too long
  2. Female protagonist gets an adrenaline spike and saves male protagonist’s life at some point
  3. Female protagonist directly disobeys orders from her more experienced ally
  4. Teenage boy objectifies women
  5. Teenage boy makes stupid decision which puts child in danger
  6. Dysfunctional family relationships
  7. Audience members scream the following: “Are you stupid?” “Don’t go in there!” “Get out!” and “Run!”
  8. More and more powers of the antagonist are revealed throughout the film until they seem unbeatable
  9. Group of protagonists splits up multiple times
  10. Egomaniac sub-antagonist thinks he’s in control until he realizes he can’t control something that’s deranged
  11. Male protagonist is way too sexy to be real
  12. Weapon which ends up destroying antagonist is the one that was flagged earlier in the film but you forgot about it
  13. Man-made weapons are virtually useless
  14. Death of innocent but annoying female character
  15. Death of creator of the antagonist
  16. Death of brave warriors who fight the antagonist without really understanding what they’re up against
  17. Derpy guy who can’t get the girl
  18. There is a bit of the evil that escaped into the real world
  19. Innocent lives threatened, including the death of many beautiful animals
  20. I got so stressed out I don’t know if I’ll be able to sleep

And for good measure, let’s compare these two movie posters:

Ominous tagline, V-shaped design, creepy photo in the center = same genre.

I’m not saying don’t go see it. Plenty of people love horror movies, and plenty of people actually think it’s fun to get stressed out.

As for me, I already have hardly slept this entire week because I played a game which involved zombies on Sunday night. So now I’m going to take a warm shower, lather myself in lavender essential oil, and listen to some Enya in hopes that I can calm down enough to sleep tonight.

And I’m also going to take another look at this:

It may or may not help me stop hallucinating about gaping jaws with hundreds of teeth chomping down on things – but if not, no regrets!

(The film was really awesome and well written. But every muscle in my legs was tensed nearly the entire time. I’m not trying to discourage you, I’m trying to prepare you).

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