The Spiderwick Chronicles was released 15 years ago!


Via Nickelodeon / Paramount Pictures

While researching The Spiderwick Chronicles, a beloved childhood film of mine, I came to the conclusion that I must’ve been a very sensitive child, because nowhere is this film described as a horror, yet in 2008, I was absolutely scared out of my skin by this fantasy film. 

The plot follows twins Jared and Simon (both incredibly played by Freddie Highmore) and their sister Mallory (also incredibly played by Sarah Bolger) as they fight off goblin-like creatures who live in their garden. Some of the goblins, such as Thimbletack (voiced by Martin Short), are actually quite nice. Thimbletack is the first goblin we meet after Jared discovers a book left by a previous house owner, Arthur Spiderwick, which details his discovery of fairies. Thimbletack helps Jared see the creatures with the gift of a triangular-holed stone. 

Jared is portrayed as an angry child who dislikes living with his mother and is different from the rest of the family, so it makes sense that his mum and siblings don’t believe his fantastical claims of goblins and fairies. That is until Simon, a book-smart pacifist and animal lover, is kidnapped by the goblins and imprisoned by Mulgarath, the evil goblin leader who is after Arthur’s book. In order to assist Jared, Hogsqueal (voiced by Seth Rogan) spits in the protagonist’s eyes so that he no longer needs to use the stone. Hogsqueal hopes to gain revenge on Mulgarath for killing his family, which means the twins now have a team of humans and goblins helping them fight off Mulgarath, and the twins are able to escape. 

Via Paramount Pictures / Nickelodeon

Back at the house, Mallory is served some humble pie when she is ambushed by goblins; Now she believes Jared! Luckily, Mallory is a keen fencer and girl boss and is able to fight off the creatures. I always liked Mallory because she wasn’t a stereotypical female character. She was a brave leader who looked after, protected and saved her younger brothers. From there ensues a terrifying cat-and-mouse chase as the goblins constantly attack the children in order to gain the book. 

A memory of this film that really stands out was the opening statement; ‘Based on a true story’. At age eight, I thought this meant absolutely everything in the film was completely true, which absolutely petrified me. I spent a very long time after this film asking my mum if we could put a magical protective mushroom circle around the house to warn off goblins. Obviously, she said no. If this plot did turn out to be true however, I wouldn’t have completely minded, because there is a beautiful ending where Lucinda Spiderwick is reunited with her father, Arthur, after she details his disappearance in an emotional monologue. Lucinda said as a child, she waited for her father to walk down the driveway everyday, and she still did. In the end, Lucinda is turned back into a child where she joins her dad (who hasn’t aged a day!) in some kind of magical world with spirits and fairies, although I’m now assuming that world was heaven. 

At the heart of this story is families. Mallory, Simon, and particularly Jared are learning to live without their father after their parents divorce. Jared still misses him and blames his mother for the tear in their family, but we learn later that actually their dad was a pretty rubbish man. The children embark on a journey that teaches them the true value of family, and of course, there is a very happy ending!

The Spiderwick Chronicles is a family-friendly movie that is funny, exciting, and sometimes emotional. I’d recommend it to everyone who wants to reconnect with their inner child and misses the naivety of youth when ‘Based on a true story’ meant ‘This is completely true and you should be terrified that an evil goblin called Mulgarath wants to kill you and your family’. 

The Spiderwick Chronicles is distributed by Paramount Pictures. You can watch the trailer here:


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