Anyone who loved the original Jurassic Park in 1993 knows that the film achieved instant classic status by not only capturing the majesty of dinosaurs (cue the music), but for weaponizing that majesty in order to create a genuinely frightening film. That film’s famous kitchen scene, in which Velociraptors relentlessly hunt two children, remains one of the most nail-biting sequences ever shot. In some senses — many senses, actually — it has never been topped but another blockbuster. For movie lovers, those sorts of scenes provide even more incentive to revisit the world’s most dangerous park, but for parents, they represent a problem: Kids love dinos and may want to see all the dinosaurs movies, but are the movies too scary for children?
The question du jour is whether or not Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is too scary for kids? If we’re talking about young kids, the answer is probably, “yes.” If we’re talking about middle schoolers, the answer likely depends on the nature of the kids’ relationship to imagined worlds. (Light spoilers for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom ahead.)
Let’s dig into what turns out to be a slightly tricky question.
Before taking your kids to Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, you may want to ask yourself the following three questions:
- Is my kid 5 years old or younger?
- Was my kid really scared by the previous film, Jurassic World in 2015?
- Is my kid afraid of the dark or does my kid have trouble sleeping?
If the answer to any of those questions is affirmative, taking your kid to see the latest Jurassic film will likely turn out to be a bad idea. The movie is significantly scarier than Jurassic World and features a dinosaur that is functionally something that goes bump in the night. It is scary and exciting in some of the ways that these movies always are, but it’s also creepy and many kids struggle with that.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is easily the scariest movie in the franchise. People are eaten by dinosaurs, limbs are severed, a small child has her home and bedroom invaded by an evil dinosaur that has more in common with the aliens from Alien than it does with the dinos from the previous films. If your child likes getting scared at movies and is easily able to distinguish reality from fantasy, you’re probably going to be fine. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom isn’t a horror movie, but it does employ horror movie techniques to keep the thrills coming. In other words, imagine how scary that kitchen scene is in the original 1993 movie. Now imagine a scene at least twice as scary as that.
Older children, perhaps 10 years-old and above will probably be fine, and if they love dinosaurs and other movies like this, they are likely to love Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom more than the adults who accompany them. Plus, more than any other movie in this franchise, Fallen Kingdom directly empowers children in a way that is not only touching but also creates a great twist ending. In other words, this might be a great movie to bond over, assuming your child is old enough to handle the scary stuff and isn’t in a place where scenes of a dino home invasion will give them nightmares for weeks.
It’s a fun, mostly brainless movie, full nice dinosaurs, and not-so-nice dinosaurs. In the end, the nice dinosaurs win the day, but there’s some dark stuff that happens before that.
–Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is out in wide release this Friday, June 22.