Follow TV Tropes

This is based on opinion. Please don't list it on a work's trope example list.


Nightmare Fuel / Jumanji

Go To


  • The concept of a game that makes everything the cards, etc. say happen to the player—from crazy hunters to violent animals—and the fact that you have to finish the game to escape, or potentially be stuck in that nightmare forever. Made worse by the fact that at the end of at least the picture book, two kids who had been stated earlier to never finish games find the game...
  • Advertisement:
  • There was a real board game made some time after the movie. It seems to take place in the nether-realm of Jumanji itself, and loves to find new and terrible ways to murder the players (such as spontaneous vaporization, encounters with venomous snakes and spiders, and running afoul of Van Pelt). The kicker: under certain conditions, cards are placed on the spaces marked on one side of the board. The final space contains a carnivorous plant and the words:
    A card placed here brings dreadful news. The game is done, all players lose.


The Film

  • The opening of the film, with the two kids who had played the game before burying it. Most notable is one of the kids falls into the hole they're digging and screams that the game "is after him" when the drums start beating louder, and then when the deed is done the kid asks the other about the possibility of someone else digging it up. The reply? "May God have mercy on his soul." Said with a thunder-clap. Obviously they've been through so much hell the older one doesn't worry about the nearby wolves. Life will probably be a picnic for them when compared to whatever horrors Jumanji put them through.
  • Alan getting sucked into the game.
    • This exchange before it, when Alan accidentally drops the dice, is very creepy.
      Alan: Oh no... the game thinks I rolled.
      Sarah: ...What do you mean "the game thinks"?
  • Advertisement:
  • Alan's monologue after Peter tries reverse psychology to get him to play: "You think monkeys, mosquitoes, and lions are bad? That's just the beginning. I've seen things you've only seen in your nightmares. Things you can't even imagine. Things you can't even see. There are things that hunt you in the night. Then something screams. Then you hear them eating, and you hope to God that you're not dessert. Afraid? You don't even know what afraid is. You will not last 5 minutes without me."
  • Those mosquitoes...
    • Their effect on people. We see one of their victims, the realtor who sold Alan's house. She seems catatonic and according to a paramedic, she is suffering symptoms that resemble a heart attack. Think of how much blood a mosquito that size would be able to draw.
    • Not to mention the diseases they could carry. At the very least, it was known then that mosquitoes carried malaria.
      • Their size is mentioned in the Junior Novel: "Mosquitos the size of pigeons. With stingers like knives."
  • That giant yellow plant that tried to eat Peter.
    • The innocuous purple flower that shoots a barb into Judy's neck. It's so pretty and small, and it actually kills her, or at least comes close.
  • The lion's entrance. Peter senses someone...or someTHING... in the room with the two. Then, the lion's massive paws menacingly step on the keys of a piano...
    • Jumanji's animals are all nightmarish versions of real-world creatures; it's a little hard to explain, but something just looks... off about the lion's face. They don't get that big, either; Jumanji's lion was about twice the size of a real adult lion. A possible idea is that the Jumanji animals represent the concept of predators rather than the real animals. In real life, Predators Are Mean is subverted more often than not (and actually tend to be less violent than some herbivores), but Jumanji brings the fear of being prey to life, creating warped abominations that want nothing except to kill for the sake of killing.
  • Van. Pelt. Imagine it: a very good marksman who is interested in hunting you in particular. Let your guard down for even one moment, and you die. Alan has lived through that. He should be the one in therapy. You can tell his heart is racing when he reads the description. "A hunter from the darkest wild. Makes you feel just like a child."
    • Van Pelt didn't just make Alan feel like a child. He was possibly hunting Alan since Alan was a child. And who knows if Van Pelt ages? He could maintain that level of skill in hunting over the years, against an aging prey.
    • As if that wasn't bad enough, the hunter almost looks exactly like Alan's father! It helps that they are played by the same actor.
    • Also the fact that said hunter is indestructible. He did have a shelf of large paint tins fall on him and lived, after all.
      • The junior novel makes it even more ominous: "As he [Bentley] drove out of the store, a hand reached out from the pile of paint cans. Slowly Van Pelt clawed his way out. He was dazed and half-conscious. And he was very, very angry."
    • Maybe the true source of the threat of Van Pelt is that he's not merely a living human being at all, but a robot or fantasy concept powered by magic; he's unstoppable because nothing like him is known to the real world.
    • Van Pelt's entrance is an Establishing Character Moment for Hunting the Most Dangerous Game. The first thing that enters the scene isn't the man himself, but one of his bullets: he's trying to kill Alan before he even comes on-screen for the first time!
      Van Pelt: You miserable coward! Come back here and face me like a man!
    • After he runs out of ammunition, Van Pelt goes to a weapons store, only to be told that the ammo for his Edwardian-era rifle is no longer in production. Bribing the owner with some gold coins (god knows where he got those), he's instead introduced to the wonders of modern firearms and is given a high-caliber hunting rifle. He doesn't miss a step and takes to it like a fish to water, making him even more dangerous.
  • If you have arachnophobia, spiders the size of medium sized dogs will send you over the edge. The fact that they're rather pathetic puppets helps surprisingly little.
  • All of the discord and turmoil that the whole city goes through, just because of one roll of the dice sealing up Alan! By all accounts, that one factory was the major source of income in the whole town, and once his father went off the deep end and let it go under, the town's economy collapsed.
    • Alan's parents came home to find their son missing without a trace, and no matter how much money they expended or how hard they searched, they were never able to find him. Even worse, people spread rumours that Alan's father murdered and dismembered him, which was surely agonising for them.
  • Nearly all of the animals unleashed by the game are darker, scarier versions of real-life creatures. Mosquitos are enormous and their bite will make you ill very quickly. Monkeys are deliberately malicious and dangerous, throwing knives at people. Lions are larger and fiercer than in reality. Even the plants try to shoot venomous barbs at you on purpose. Only the herbivores like the elephants and rhinos seemed less destructive, though just like their real-life counterparts, they can be aggressive and extremely dangerous; for example, elephants and hippos kill more people in Africa than lions and crocodiles.
    • In the animal stampede through the city, some of the elephants take their sweet time in crushing the car that Peter takes shelter in.
  • And how to forget that Pelican, that Pelican has a very Strange and Disturbing appearance and not to mention his Blood Red Eyes.
    • The Pelican was purposely trying to stop Alan from finishing the game, and it looked like it was ready to bite off Alan's hand.
  • Peter turning into a monkey, which may seem a little funny — the riddle implied he was becoming more wild than any of the vicious monkeys we saw.
  • There are those who think the face Van Pelt makes when we last see him is hilarious. To others, it's a final bit of Nightmare Fuel that the darn game couldn't resist.
  • Just imagine what poor Sarah went through. Seeing her friend get sucked into a board game, being chased by a swarm of bats, and being bounced around from therapist to therapist who kept telling her she made it all up, and the whole town treats her as an outcast well into her adulthood. Is it any wonder she tried to get the hell out of dodge when Judy and Peter pulled out the game? It ruined her whole life.
    • Then there's her reintroduction to the game. The thing that she and the rest of the characters face is a man-eating plant that is trying to eat one of them. It's no wonder why she tries to run away after that. Seeing something that dangerous reawakened her memory of the game and probably caused her to have a panic attack.
  • Thoroughly lampshaded by Roger Ebert in his review of the film with Gene Siskel, who found the amount of Nightmare Fuel in this to be so much he feared for any kids who might've gone to see it.
  • In the junior novel's prologue, we have this line:
    "And no one, not a single soul, has ever played it twice."
  • When Alan is being sucked into the game and therefore Jumanji itself, he desperately calls out for Sarah to roll the dice on the chance that she will roll a five or an eight and immediately set him free. Instead, she runs away when a group of bats envelope her, and Alan is then trapped in Jumanji for twenty-six years.
    Alan: "Roooooll the Diiiiice!!!"
    • Even worse is the game's insistence on the rules. They were lucky enough that Sarah was still local. What if she'd left the country? Worse yet, what if she'd gone insane, or died? Does the game have an exit clause if a player is essentially forced to forfeit, or does it simply mean the game remains unfinished forever?
  • It's great for Alan and Sarah that the game considers the entire timeline a consequence to be erased, but the kids are lucky they even exist in the new history. Yeah, the town is more prosperous, but who died or didn't even get born in the altered timeline?
    • The absolutely horrifying fact that Alan and Sarah remember everything when they go back to being kids in 1969. These are 12 year old children who have 26 years worth of profoundly traumatic memories and no way to process or explain them to people. The movie makes it look like a good thing, they see enough of the future to know how to game it, the make the sneakers a success, they save the kids parents and they save the whole town from going under. But... Alan has 26 years of traumatic memories and so does Sarah. He was alone, being hunted in the jungle for 3 decades. She was ostracised by an entire town, forced to tell a lie that she knows didn't happen. Yes, they now have each other to lean on and share the trauma but can you imagine the nightmares Alan would be having? How confusing it would be for Sarah to have all those firsts again? Her first kiss, boyfriend, what ever?
      • Fortunately there's a line from Sarah when they dump the game that implies most of her and Alan's memories from the other timeline are disappearing.

The Cartoon Series
  • The Stalker (see above). A demonic Grim Reaper-like figure, implied to be at least the avatar for whatever sentience controls Jumanji (expanded material explicitly describes him as both Jumanji's protector and a "Game Over" demon). In the episode "No Dice", he wants those dice and is a total Implacable Man. He continues to follow Alan, wanting to kill him and restore the game, chasing him deep into the clockwork that makes up the game.
  • While the Fridge and Headscratchers pages argue that in the movie, Jumanji actually bends the rules to avoid killing its players and giving them a chance, that is explicitly not the case here. The very first episode has Alan explain that most of his toys are the only things left of other kids who found the game and rolled the dice.
  • Van Pelt is explicitly an Axe-Crazy psycho in this depiction, who lives to kill anything he can find. In one episode, the kids have to sneak around in his house to steal his hat and accidentally wake him up while he's sleeping. They initially send him back to sleep by claiming to be the maid, but then he bolts upright and reminds himself that he shot the maid yesterday.
    • In episode 4, right before Aunt Nora escapes from Van Pelt, you can see heads of children mounted on his wall. He later tried to do the same to Nora and the kids.
    • The reveal that the game requires that there must always be a Hunter, so if you kill Van Pelt, you immediately take his place. Which means that Van Pelt might not be the first, but may just be an unlucky previous player.
    • Worse in that the above nearly happens to Peter, before Alan and Judy figure a way to bring Van Pelt back.
  • Professor Ibsen is an exceptionally terrifying case of a Mad Scientist, since he creates all sorts of deadly creatures for Jumanji simply because the game tells him to and that he sees himself as above any responsibility his creations do when killing the players. In his first appearance, he uses a laptop taken from the real world to take over the world of Jumanji and essentially declare himself "Jumanji" (effectively God). He becomes more vengeful and dangerous after the kids foil his plans.
    • In Episode 7 of Season 2, he captured and replaced Alan with a robot duplicate and did the same with Peter. He planned to send his robot version of Peter into the real world to lure more children into Jumanji to provide the jungle with more victims. Meanwhile, Ibsen would repopulate the real world with more of his automatons until eventually he would replace everyone and basically kill off all the real people in favor of his automatons. He says all this with a giddy glee.
  • Even the opening itself is quite creepy, showing several animals with huge sharp teeth and empty blank eyes, many of which roar or even downright jump at the screen, all set to dark backgrounds and omnious music. Heck, even the antelope looks like it's about to eat you!
  • The scary theme that plays every time the Main Characters are trying to survive in Jumanji is hauntingly ominous. Especially when you consider it is the same theme that played in Courage the Cowardly Dog when King Ramses first appeared.
  • "Nothing to Fear" breaks the Never Say "Die" trope for good and has Alan worrying about growing old and dying in the game. While being subjected to Ibsen's Triangle of Terror, which can read and materialize your worst fears, he is confronted by his own tombstone (who laughs at him) and a mad version of him in his old age.
    Old Alan: What's the hurry? You got nothing but time!
    • In one of those fears, Alan finds himself in the house, where a grown-up Peter and Judy leaving her son with a babysitter while they visit Jumanji to try to free Alan. We see her son looking up at the intimidating babysitter. Perhaps one of the reasons Alan wants them to give up trying to free him is because he doesn't want them to grow up to be neglectful parents because of him, or worse they might never come back.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: