The Spiderwick Chronicles opens in a dark laboratory-like room full of insects. Arthur Spiderwick (David Strathairn) is writing in an old book and is quite obviously frightened.
Eighty years later, a mother (Mary-Louise Parker) and her three children arrive at the old house. Mallory (Sarah Bolger), Simon and Jared (twins both played by Freddie Highmore) are not at all happy to be there. They have had to leave their home in New York, but it is Jared who seems the angriest. He won’t talk and fights constantly.
When they arrive, they find salt on the window sills and the house has strange noises. Things go missing and Jared is blamed. Eventually, while trying to find the source of the noises, Jared finds Arthur Spiderwick’s room. In it is the old book written by Arthur Spiderwick called The Spiderwick Chronicles. Although there is dire warning at the start of the book that it should not be read, he reads it anyway.
The book contains secrets about magical and mythical beings. By reading it, Jared sets off a chain of events that bring out goblins and the ogre Mulgarath (Nick Nolte). Mulgarath is determined to get the book because it will enable him to become so powerful that he will rule the earth. Jared needs to find a way to defeat the ogre and keep his family, and the world, safe.
The supernatural; family conflict; separation from a parent
Most of the violence in this film is not initiated by people. In many scenes, the mythical creatures attack the family violently and the family retaliate. For example:
- Goblins attack the children by scratching and biting, leaving marks.
- Mulgarath tells the goblins to kill Jared’s family.
- Mallory fights the goblins with a sword.
- There is physical fighting between the three siblings.
- Jared appears to stab his father (actually Mulgarath in disguise).
Content that may disturb children
In addition to the violent scenes described above, there are other scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children in this age group. These are particularly scenes with computer-generated images of fantasy characters. For example:
- While Arthur Spiderwick is writing in his book, ghostly and scary noises surround the house. He is quite obviously frightened.
- When angry, a brownie changes into a creature called a ‘bogger’ that is green, ugly and aggressive.
- Simon is dragged away from the house by something invisible.
- Jared finds Simon in a cage hung up in a tree, and it is obvious Simon is terrified. Menacing goblins are seen below.
- Mulgarath the ogre appears in the shape of an evil-looking old man.
- A very evil-looking troll chases Mallory and Jared through a tunnel.
- While the children are visiting old Aunt Lucy (Arthur’s daughter), a goblin attacks them and gets some pages of the book.
- The children’s father appears at the house and Jared attacks his father, knowing that he is really Mulgarath in disguise. He turns into the very scary, evil-looking Mulgarath right in front of their eyes. The ogre attacks the family and ends up by chasing Jared to the roof, transforming into a huge serpent and a giant bird in the process.
- Mallory screams because her hair is tied to the bedpost and she can’t move.
- Jared is obviously upset by his father having left the family. He is angry with his mother because of this. In one scene, he calls his dad several times but his father doesn’t come.
Younger children in this age group might also be scared by some of the scenes described above.
Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Nudity and sexual activity
This movie contains some mild coarse language and put-downs.
Ideas to discuss with your children
The Spiderwick Chronicles is a fantasy adventure featuring computer-generated images of creatures such as goblins and ogres.
The main message is about the need to think before you act and speak, making sure that you do not judge a situation or lay blame until you know the whole story. You could talk with your child about your own family values, and other issues raised in the movie, such as listening to others, trusting others, belief in yourself, and understanding and empathy. Another important issue you could discuss is the children’s separation from their father and Jared’s reaction to it.