Nancy Drew And The Hidden Staircase

Join Sophia Lillis (Stephen King’s It) as Nancy in this thrilling mystery that will keep you guessing till the very end!
Katt Shea
Sophia LillisZoë ReneeMackenzie Graham
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Supporting actors
Laura Slade WigginsSam TrammellLinda LavinAndrea AndersJon Briddell
Jeff KleemanChip Diggins
PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
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4.4 out of 5 stars

1567 global ratings

  1. 70% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 16% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 9% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 2% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 4% of reviews have 1 stars
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Carl SchultzReviewed in the United States on March 25, 2019
2.0 out of 5 stars
Lillis Is Great, But The Movie Lets Her Down
“Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase” Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, 89 Minutes, Rated PG, Released March 15, 2019:

Nancy Drew has changed.

There’s a weird vibe coming from the new “Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase” that psudonymous author Carolyn Keene never put into the the original mysteries. This isn’t your grandmother’s teenaged girl detective, or even your mother’s. Under normal circumstances, an occasional update for an antiquated character isn’t a bad idea. But in this picture, it’s only the beginning of the problem.

In “The Hidden Staircase,” Nancy Drew and her father Carson have recently moved from Chicago to the small, bucolic community of River Heights. A crusading attorney, Carson Drew wanted to leave the big city after the death of his civil rights activist wife because “everything in the city reminds me of her”...which is precisely the reason daughter Nancy wanted to stay.

While Carson seems to have adjusted well to small town life, daughter Nancy is having problems fitting in. Bored with small town life, ostracized by the more affluent and socially-popular clique at school, Nancy’s befriended the nerdish but resourceful fellow social outcasts Beth and George (George is a girl).

While exacting revenge for a cruel social prank played by a vain and popular fellow student on the shy and insecure Beth, Nancy’s arrested by the local police chief. And during her interactions with the local police, Nancy meets the elderly Flora, an octogenarian former burlesque queen troubled with a possible ghostly manifestation in her mansion.

When the elderly Flora is dismissed by the police chief as...well, addled, Nancy decides to investigate the haunting herself. And with her already-overactive imagination and a demonstrable aptitude for chaos, the combination of Nancy Drew and ghosts will undoubtedly be a recipe for trouble.

Vaguely reminiscent of the haunted house comedies such as “Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow” produced for teenagers by the American International Pictures studios during the 1950s and 1960s, “Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase” tries to update the venerable teen detective from her roots in post-depression 1930s America and make her relevant to the present day.

The picture aims for 2019 but instead effectively bullseyes the mid-1980s, a revelation made plain by the end of the opening credits, which show Nancy skateboarding home from school while the soundtrack blares the song “More Than Just a Girl.” The River Heights community of the novels seems more or less intact, a insulated town where you might expect Wally and the Beaver to turn up. An inevitable result is that the new Nancy Drew becomes an anachronism in her own movie before the story even begins to unfold.

Veering uncomfortably from comedy to drama with some social commentary thrown in, “Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase” careens all over the emotional spectrum, inconsistent in tone and uneven in drama. The audience never learns which effect director Katt Shea is shooting for, or even which genre. Even as a mystery, the movie is worthless--every time a clue is revealed, the information is scuttled and negated almost instantly by a preposterous new plot development.

Produced by comedian Ellen DeGeneres, “Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase” shares many of the characteristics of an Ellen DeGeneres comedy routine--part farce, part irony, and part social commentary, simultaneously both comic and serious in concept and delivery. It’s a combination which might work well for a stand-up routine, but a disastrous formula for a persuasive dramatic narrative. Introducing comedic elements to dramatic scenes and vice-versa, the picture changes gears, and genres, so often that the result is a bewildering and often irritating mess.

Writers Nina Fiore and John Herrera try to pass Nancy Drew off as a typical American teenager, but nobody seems to know anything about typical people, or how they interact with each other. This might be the first motion picture mystery in which a ghostly apparition is explained not by optical trickery but by controlled doses of hallucinogenic spices, which are then fed in overdose quantities to the villain before the film's end.

On top of that, the picture is frequently mean-spirited: Indifferent to personal responsibility, contemptful of authority, this is a Nancy Drew who’ll combat a bully by becoming a bigger bully, break into a home when she’s curious about what’s inside, walk away from a court-ordered work detail because she’s bored, or steal a car when she wants to take a drive with a friend.

While the studio’s publicity machine describes their title character as intelligent, independent, and assertive, a clinician might better diagnose this Nancy Drew as troubled and aggressive, “acting out” her grief and frustrations. In real life, the ingenue sleuth would in juvenile detention within the first twenty minutes of the picture. And what in the world is going on with the Nick-and-Nora flirtation between school-age Nancy and the adult police deputy?

At age 17, actress Sophia Lillis has star quality to spare, a rare combination of the charismatic appeal of both a late Disney-era Hayley Mills and the young Jane Fonda. The breakout star of last summer’s hit adaptation of Stephen King’s novel “It” and a working actress since the age of seven, Lillis possesses charisma, poise, screen presence, and an ability to command the viewer’s attention and interest. That’s a recipe for stardom, and this young performer undoubtedly has a bright future in movies. But she’s going to have to learn to avoid projects like “Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase.” Lillis would make a better Trixie Belden than Nancy Drew anyway.

Also featuring performances by octogenarian Linda Lavin as the octogenarian Flora and Colin Ferrell-lookalike Sam Trammell as Carson Drew, “Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase” has earned some surprisingly strong reviews from critics, including a 70% approval rating from Rotten Tomatoes and 55% from Metacritic. But the picture is hardly even showing a pulse in ticket sales, earning too little in receipts to appear on the Box Office Mojo Top 40.

Running 89 minutes which seem a lot longer, “Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase” somehow got away with PG rating from the MPAA, which cited scenes of peril, suggestive material, thematic elements, and language.
104 people found this helpful
KBReviewed in the United States on April 8, 2019
1.0 out of 5 stars
Not for young children
Verified purchase
Super disappointed in this movie. My 10 year old loves the books, but the movie was scary for her. It did not even seem like a Nancy Drew, and I would like a refund. She only watched less than 30 min. of the movie … I would not recommend for young girls. Boo! She loves all the books.
51 people found this helpful
DeniseReviewed in the United States on April 14, 2019
1.0 out of 5 stars
Not Nancy Drew
Verified purchase
I don't know who this character is, but it's not the wholesome, responsible Nancy Drew. I've read the books, so I know what they are and who the characters are intimately. Really disappointing.
46 people found this helpful
wisdomstarReviewed in the United States on April 17, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
for an upgrade to the twenty-first century it's not bad
Verified purchase
As a kid in the fifties, I collected as many Nancy Drew Mysteries as I could. I was disappointed when I was told by a librarian that Carolyn Keene was a group of ghost writers and therefore non-existent, but I loved the books anyway. Years later I got my hands on a vintage Nancy Drew book and was amazed at the hack writing that I hadn't noticed as a child. But I bought the video series from years ago with Bonita Granville (?) - Nancy Drew Detective/Nancy Drew Reporter, etc. They were nothing like the books, but they were entertaining. Nancy and her boyfriend got themselves into a lot of scrapes. Now, in this movie we have moved into the next century and Nancy knows how to pick locks. Bess is a science whiz, George is always worrying and there's even a mean girl (Has to be one in a teen movie). But I like the amazing haunted house, and the hidden staircase (very Nancy Drew) . Nancy no longer needs Ned to help her (Ned has grown into Deputy Patrick!)They even had the blue roadster which Nancy knew how to drive in the books .LIllis is a good reincarnation of Nancy. She is empathic and helps those who are not listened to (Linda Lavin was a wonderful character - if they do a sequel, I hope they keep her). Nancy is curious and brave (or foolhardy, depending on your point of view). She gets in trouble with her father and the law. She is cute but not gorgeous, and athletic. Her friends are loyal even if she does things that worry them. She's spunky and injustice makes her angry. As for scary - that is in the eye of the beholder. Some kids are easily scared and some are thrilled by scary. So as a parent, you might want to watch it first to see if it fits you and your child. But, I for one, would like to see a sequel. Unfortunately, my grandchildren are too old to watch it with me.
22 people found this helpful
Amazon CustomerReviewed in the United States on April 20, 2019
1.0 out of 5 stars
Not my type of sleuth
Verified purchase
I have read Nancy Drew novels and watched the Nancy Drew in the 70’s but this one it’s cute but they could’ve done better... you can hear Ellen D. in the ND dialogues. Hoping a much better story and a much better adaptation of another Nancy Drew series or movie.
25 people found this helpful
JaxLexReviewed in the United States on April 13, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
Great for mother-daughter movie night!
Verified purchase
My 10-year-old daughter and I really enjoyed this movie! It was perfect for a mother-daughter movie night. We liked the story, even the parts that were scary! None of it felt too over the top for us. We thought Sophia Lillis did a great job as Nancy.
19 people found this helpful
AbigailReviewed in the United States on May 4, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
Great update on Nancy Drew
Verified purchase
I loved reading the yellow spined Nancy Drew books growing up. Enjoyed the 70s tv show. Loved the Retro in a modern world Nancy Drew movie of 2007 and the trailer for this Nancy Drew made me instantly want to watch it.

Yes, it's an updated Nancy. But it works. Hannah is not the housekeeper, but her Aunt who they move to River Heights to be by. Nancy is in my husband's words "snarky" and she is indeed not the Sweet polite Nancy of yester year but a rather sassy and sarcastic teenage girl dealing with life in a new town after her mother's death. She is also extremely honest and lovable.

We watched this movie with our girls aged 12, 9, 7, and 4. Some parts were indeed scary for the 9, 7, and 4 year olds. There's a good lesson in the beginning that many reviews complained about, obviously not seeing that Nancy is admonished for her choice and then later realizes indeed she stooped to the same level as the bully. The one thing I disliked was their using the Lord's name in vain frequently.

Overall, I really hope they make more Nancy Drew movies with these actors. We just rented this but I'm thinking about buying it now, because I absolutely want to watch it again.
13 people found this helpful
JoyReviewed in the United States on March 31, 2020
1.0 out of 5 stars
Destroyed a classic
Verified purchase
If this had just a teen movie on its own (not based off a classic) - this movie would have been okayish. But they tried to profit off of a classic and destroyed everything about the series. One of the great things about reading Nancy Drew as a kid was that it wasn't angsty, filled with drama or bratty kid behaviour. It was about a smart, confident girl who treated others with respect and kindness and helped people with her skills.

Whoever dreamed up this version needs to never attempt a retelling of a classic ever again.
7 people found this helpful
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