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Why Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Is the Ultimate Haunted House/Dino Mash-up

Revisiting Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and assessing it for the haunted house horror show it truly is.

By Tara Bennett

Middle films in a cinematic trilogy are often the chapters that try harder and take more memorable swings. Thus, it's common for audiences to not know how to react to the change or innovation they're presented with, and sometimes they balk. Fast-forward years later, and that same title is often reassessed, or just confirmed to be, the exceptional installment it always was. The Empire Strikes Back, The Two Towers, and The Last Jedi went through the process, and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018) is due for its reassessment too. 

Director J. A. Bayona's take on the franchise is like two genre movies in one. The first half is a Roland Emmerich-esque disaster feature that catalogs the destruction of Isla Nublar. The second half plays out like a dark, Gothic "haunted house" tale as an "ark" of saved dino species arrives at the remote Lockwood estate. While the mash-up of distinct genres seems incongruous, Bayona's strong action and horror visuals marry the two halves into a satisfying tale that is arguably one of the most original approaches to a middle sequel installment ever.

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How Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom's Indoraptor is the ultimate dinosaur version of Frankenstein's monster 

To put it simply, every single dinosaur creation commissioned into existence by John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) and company in Jurassic Park and beyond is technically an abomination against nature. It's through DNA manipulation and genetic tinkering that they're brought back from the dead, and every single film installment just confirms what a mess of a decision it was. In Jurassic World: Fallen KingdomBayona and screenwriters Derek Connolly and Colin Trevorrow double down on that assertion with the introduction of the Indoraptor, as dreamed up by Dr. Henry Wu (BD Wong). Created by genetically merging Indominus rex and Velociraptor DNA, the end result is a brand-new, perfect "monster" that runs rampant within the Lockwood estate.

Invoking the same monster and creator cautionary dynamic as Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Wu's growing hubris for creating life from ancient DNA provokes him to create something so new and deadly. The very idea that he — or anything — might not be able to control it is never considered. The end result is a self-released Indoraptor that creeps around the Lockwood manor like a boogeyman in the shadows. It's ability to camouflage and strategize adds a new level of terror to the idea of a dinosaur adversary. The tempered threat of the T-rex or the Velociraptor is made stark once more via this entirely frightening creature. 

Lockwood Manor transforms into the ultimate haunted house scenario in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Already a proven talent at capturing dread and tension in his films The Orphanage and The Impossible, Bayona reframes the Lockwood Manor from an admirable repository for science and antiquity into a playground for revenge. He and the screenwriters take time in the second half of Fallen Kingdom to lay out a morality tale about greed and the capricious nature of the wealthy by turning the dinosaurs into commodities. In the basement, the exotics auction is garishly lit, framed and shot as a ghastly exercise in depravity. The "beauty" of Hammond and Wu's creations are reduced to potential weapons and pets for those who have no awe or appreciation for them.

Once released, the Indoraptor is like vengeance personified. Bayona turns it into an avenging angel set loose in the space meant to contain it. He beautifully frames whole sequences around its ability to sneak up on prey, with its witch-like talons poking at little Maisie (Isabella Sermon) in her bed, or as it crawls up the eaves of the house to perch and observe how to exploit its enemies within. What Bayona accomplishes throughout Fallen Kingdom is to reframe the less potential danger of the dinos into something terrifying once more. Once the Indoraptor inspires his fellow captured dinos, the T-rex and Velociraptor regain their bite as wild, untamable predators who wreak their own moments of revenge, freeing their power and destiny of the yolk of humanity. And when we see many of them escape into the woods of the estate, there's a sense that Fallen Kingdom has restored order by letting the monster go free as the ultimate karma for humanity's hubris. 

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