Spiderwick Chronicles: Special Features Fail

July 24, 2010

You won’t find too many fantasy-based movies for children that are better than The Spiderwick Chronicles. It’s an amazingly realistic depiction of the original book of illustrated fiction by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black. Spiderwick achieved such a level of realism that young children could very well have believed that the CGI images in the movie were real. It can be hard to suspend disbelief when you see the snot dripping from a hobgoblin’s nose.

The Spiderwick Chronicles is an especially scary movie, and parents of young children should be cautioned that the producers of the film went out of their way to instill terror. My children have yet to show any reaction to scary movies, including no visible signs of fear when they saw the skyscraper-sized demonic dragon in How to Train Your Dragon. Just to be safe, I let my girls watch the Special Features after Spiderwick concluded to show them how the monsters were animated. Breaking down the illusion of movie production can be a great way to show the artistry of film making, while easing a child’s mind that the more thrilling moments were achieved by computer animation.

However, on this occasion, I was shocked that the special features for Spiderwick started with a segment called “It’s All True”. Mark Waters, the director, began the segment in a flat deadpan voice that “everything you saw in the movies are true” and actually happened to real people who wrote letters to the writers of the original book. Say wha??? Then, to add fuel to the fire, the writers confirmed that these fairy stories were based on true events.

Ha ha. It’s all in good fun, right? No, I think that continuing the charade of realism in the special features is irresponsible, especially after such a terrifying film. I, of course, turned the special features off as soon as they hinted that the movie was based on a true story. I did go back to make sure that I didn’t miss production notes on how the creatures were animated, but there was nothing like that to be found.

What a shame.


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