Confessions of a Film Junkie: Is “Jumanji" a Horror film for kids?
By: Brian Cotnoir
I am continuing my generation’s tradition of pointing out how freaky/scary some of the movies and TV shows we had as kids were over the internet. Yes, for whatever reason we all like to point out the same stuff on the internet: “Freaky Fred on “Courage the Cowardly Dog” was creepy as hell!”, “How awesome and scary was “Are you Afraid of the Dark?”, “What was with that creepy a$$ clown in “The Brave Little Toaster”, and the list goes on. In fact some of my Most Popular Articles are my “5 Films that you probably didn’t realize were too scary for kids”. In one of those editions I briefly talked about the 1995 Family Classic “Jumanji”. I remember my mom and grandmother taking me and my sister to see this in theatres. Ever since the tragic passing of actor Robin Williams I’ve seen this film shown more and more on TV. Now the more times I see it the more and more I start to realize, “Wow this is film is creepy as hell! This isn’t a kids movie, it’s more like a Horror film for kids!”
I mean just look at the opening title credits and scene: a spooky green mist comes out of nowhere and forms the title “Jumanji” before quickly fading out then we get a scene in 1869 where we see two brothers named Caleb and Benjamin out in the middle of the woods at night. The two brothers grab a wooden chest and off of a cart and throw it into a whole, and begin to bury it. While they’re burying the box the younger brother Benjamin falls into the whole and then this creepy tribal drum starts to play, Benjamin shouts to his brother “Caleb, help it’s after me!” and then wants to run away after being pulled out of the hole. Caleb insists that they finish what they started and when his brother asks what will happen if somebody else finds it, to which Caleb replies “May God have mercy on his soul” as lighting flashes behind him. Yeah just in the first two minutes of this film alone this film definitely gives off a horror movie vibe. We know that the two boys must have played the game, but we never get to see what sort of things they endured. I can only assume—based on what we see later in the film—the sort of horrendous things they must’ve encountered. I actually wish there was a prequel film to “Jumanji” so we can see how the brothers came across this game (maybe the origins of the game too) and what sorts of things happened to them while they played it.
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Run! It's a Stampede!
Not only does the game mess with the people playing the game, but it also affects the people of Brantford too. Carl Bentley (played by actor David Alan Grier) is constantly tormented by a group of monkeys that was released by Jumanji, and the stampede runs right through the heart of the town of Brantford creating mass chaos and destruction.
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It’s amazing to think that this beloved children’s film might have been made more to scare them rather than entertain them. Even today it’s probably one of the Best Children’s movies ever made, but is also one of the scariest one’s ever made, and I think there is more than enough evidence to suggest that this may be a Horror film for kids.