Why Netflix’s Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous Is So Suspenseful And Violent For A Kids Show

Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous the Indominous Rex looks at kids on a zipline like a snack

A summer blockbuster franchise like the Jurassic World series isn’t exactly the most natural fit for a kids’ TV show. The Michael Crichton-inspired and Steven Spielberg-shepherded films have been known to scare even adults in their prime moments of terror, so when Netflix announced its Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous animated series, it posed the question of just how kid-friendly this particular enterprise would be. Having watched the show for myself, and having spoken with both showrunner Scott Kreamer and Jurassic World writer/director Colin Trevorrow, I can confirm there’s a method to the harrowing madness shown in this summer camp experience gone horribly wrong.

During Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous' recent press junket, CinemaBlend and other journalists participated in roundtable interviews with the cast and creative team of this eight-episode marvel. Beyond being so enjoyable, the animated show is surprisingly on brand with its themes and its mayhem, and Scott Kreamer and Colin Trevorrow made it pretty clear why this series worked as well as it did.

For starters, it helped that Jurassic Park director Steven Spielberg was involved in an extended capacity, having to approve the narrative moves that Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous aimed to make. On top of that particular good fortune, there was also the fact that Jurassic World franchise mastermind Colin Trevorrow was intrinsically linked to this show’s writer’s room. Which meant that Trevorrow’s philosophy on what a Jurassic World series should offer fans of the films was very much present from day one. In his words:

That’s a priority that Steven and I share, as you’ve seen in the other films we’ve made. We definitely don’t shy away from children in danger, or people in danger, or unearned deaths, or any of those things. We really recognize that these were real creatures that were horribly dangerous, and they were animals, but they were also alive and deserving of respect. We try to weave all of those ideas into one narrative, but there really wasn’t ever a question, for either of us or for the rest of the writers, that we wanted to continue on with the tone of the films. It really needed to feel like it existed in that same world. And I don’t think animation is a medium that is any less valuable or important in the context of the story we’re telling. This really is another part of the story we’re telling.

Following a group of children testing out a youth-oriented camp set to open the same weekend as Jurassic World’s asset containment crisis, the show introduced audiences to main character Darius (Paul-Mikel Williams) and his fellow campers as they make their way across Isla Nublar, attempting to escape the dinosaurs that threaten their very lives. Adults get straight-up eaten, and some of the kids are put into various harrowing scenarios involving zip lines, gyrospheres, and even a Carnotaurus. While it isn’t exactly a constant collection of horrors, Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous also isn’t merely a kid’s adaptation of events already covered in the blockbuster dinosaur franchise, and nor is it an unconnected spin-off that merely exists to sell toys.

Rather, the events of these eight episodes are very much a part of the overall Jurassic World canon, as Season 1 takes place during the same events that made the 2015 film a record-breaking hit in its year at the box office. With a beast as dangerous as an Indominous Rex on the loose, approaching the idea of an animated series felt like a risky prospect. But seeing as how the end results have even impressed Ms. Bryce Dallas Howard herself, Netflix can likely bank on this brand being around for quite a while.

Of course, Colin Trevorrow is only one of the two that helped make Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous the Netflix hit that it is, as the series’ recent Top 10 showing is also linked to the efforts of showrunner Scott Kreamer. Much like his Hollywood-inclined collaborator, Kreamer had his eye on the Jurassic ball, also grasping the tone of this animated series would need to believably fit into the heightened stakes of the overall Jurassic World franchise. Backing that very call, Kreamer added his thoughts on the matter as follows:

Yeah, we were never going to show a lot of blood or gore, or anything like that on screen. But again, it all comes down to the stakes have to be real. If every single adult or kid has all these near misses and nothing happens and there’s nothing really at stake, I just think it’s harder to really buy in that the kids are in danger. So it was very important to all of us to ground it into real fear. Bad things can and will happen.

You could practically etch that last adage onto Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous’ very gates, and as we’ve seen and heard in the progression of the franchise that gave it life, that’s always going to be the case. With Jurassic World: Dominion coming our way, and a second season of Jurassic World; Camp Cretaceous potentially coming down the road, a proper game plan is crucial for keeping both worlds tied together over time in order to ensure the entire Jurassic universe works without the many setbacks its fictional theme park has undergone.

There are a lot of questions left in the air by time Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous wraps its eight episode thrill ride, with one massive question seemingly answered during a mid-credits tease in the season finale (even if it's possibly still a downtrodden circumstance.) For now, you can see the results for yourself as the entire first season of Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceousis currently available for streaming in Netflix. Stay tuned to our Fall TV 2020 premiere schedule to see all the new and returning shows on the way.

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.