Spiderwick Chronicles, The

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Not recommended under 8, PG to 13 (Violence and scary scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Spiderwick Chronicles, The
  • a review of Spiderwick Chronicles, The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 3 April 2008.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Not recommended due to violence and scary scenes
Children 8 -12 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and scary scenes
Children 13 and over OK for this group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Spiderwick Chronicles, The
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild fantasy violence, Some scenes may frighten young children
Length: 96 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

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 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 as 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. They find that things go missing and Jared is blamed. Eventually, while trying to find the source of the noises, Jared finds Arthur Spiderwick’s room and 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 and, by reading it, Jared sets off a chain of events that brings 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.


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

The supernatural; family conflict; separation from a parent

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

Much of the violence in this film is not between people but there are a number of scenes of  violent attacks on the family by mythical creatures and retaliation by the family. Some examples are:

  • Goblins attack the children, scratching leaving marks as they scratch and bite them
  • 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)

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, particularly those involving computer generated images of fantasy characters. Examples include:

  • While Arthur Spiderwick is writing in his book, ghostly and scary noises surround the house. He is quite obviously frightened
  • A brownie, when angry, 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
  • Mallory and Jared are chased through a tunnel by a very evil looking troll
  • 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 and one scene, he calls his dad several times but his father doesn’t come.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this group are also likely to be scared by the above-mentioned scenes

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Younger children in this age group may also be scared by some of the above-mentioned scenes

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Nothing of concern

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Motorola mobile phone

Sexual references

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern

Use of substances

None of concern

Coarse language

Some mild coase language and putdowns.

In a nutshell

The Spiderwick Chronicles is a fantasy adventure featuring computer generated images of creatures such as goblins and ogres.

The movie’s main message is that you should think before you act and speak, making sure that you do not judge a situation or lay blame until you know the whole story

Values that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • listening to others
  • trusting others.
  • belief in yourself
  • understanding and empathy

Parents may also wish to discuss the children’s separation from their father and Jared’s reaction to it.