Watch: Is Horror the Secret to a Great Blockbuster?

This video essay looks at Steven Spielberg’s use of horror film technique by investigating a legendary set piece from Jurassic Park.

Steven Spielberg appeals to mass audiences while maintaining the respect and admiration of his peers and working—with seeming effortlessness—in almost any genre.

In a new video essay, Patrick (H) Willems looks at just one of these techniques: Spielberg’s genre-bending use of the elements of horror films in his blockbusters.

A set piece is a scene or sequence with escalated stakes and production values. In Willem’s words, “if done right, set pieces make the biggest impression on an audience and get them to come back again and tell their friends and family.” Spielberg is no slouch at set pieces, from the harrowing D-Day sequence that opens Saving Private Ryan, to the thrilling escape on flying bicycles in E.T., and, famously, the T-Rex attack in Jurassic Park, the sequence that Willems examines in the video. What makes it so effective?

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