Another of the family films with a world beneath the world, The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008) is decently filmed, well-told, with good visual effects. Some scenes are too scary for very young folk and some magic may be off-putting.

The film is ten years old so is available for home viewing. It’s one of the better ‘world beneath the world’ family films from the last decade or so.

A prominent feature of the film is an old house. It is surrounded by an invisible world of faeries, goblins and ogres that can be seen if one is able.


Houses in Hollywood movies have a long history. There are haunted house movies, houses needing serious renovation, the special family abode. The one ready for developers, and the ones that have a special place in the heart.

The Spiderwick Chronicles continues the tradition, with an old country house, the Spiderwick estate, over one hundred years old. A family shifts into the house, as they have inherited it.

The house is surrounded by a world beneath the world. This world can’t be seen by the naked human eye unless humans are given the ability. This is another type of home space Hollywood depicts, the invisible world by the house.

Worlds within the real world have been done before recently, with Strange Magic (2015)—without a house—and Epic (2013)—with a house.

In Spiderwick, the other world is focused on goblins and a shapeshifting ogre, but there are also faeries on the good side of the ledger.


The ogre is fighting for a book in the house containing secret knowledge, but which is deadly in the wrong hands. If the book gets into the ogre’s possession, the ogre will know how to rule the invisible world and destroy any human getting in its way. A boy finds the book in a room in the house, but must keep it from the ogre. The goodwill of the boy makes him help others in the invisible world, and help save them from the ogre.

There comes a hog goblin and another diminutive creature to the boy’s aid, to guide him through the twists and turns that will come. The story winds up with confrontation between the family and the goblins and the ogre.

Family solidarity

The newly arrived inhabitants of the house are three older children—including the boy played by Freddie Highmore (Five Children and It and Arthur and the Invisibles)—and their mother. Her husband has left.

The house barely makes it through a rabid ogre going full-tongs, wanting to get the book. But this is a house, this is a home. Homes are special. It would take a lot of dismantle this ole house. It would take a lot to flicker out this family’s morale.

I thought the house would fall—having an ogre go through it seemed the final straw—but it takes something more immense to bring down this household, perhaps nothing could bring it down.

Households were meant to stand, even when husbands leave.

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