22nd Mar2019

‘Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase’ Review

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Sophia Lillis, Zoe Renee, Mackenzie Graham, Andrea Anders, Laura Wiggins, Sam Trammell, Linda Lavin, Andrew Matthew Welch, Jon Briddell, Jesse C. Boyd, Evan Castelloe, Josh Daugherty, Jay DeVon Johnson | Written by Nina Fiore, John Herrera | Directed by Katt Shea


It’s difficult where to start with Warner Brothers rebooted feature of Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase, directed by Katt Shea. For all intents and purposes, it’s a harmless rendition of a young adult detective story targeted at that specific audience “young adult”. It’s not meant to be consumed by all manners and corners of cinema-goers and to that respect, it’s difficult to fault both the production and the final product of a film that’s the definition of harmless fun. However, that being said there are multiple issues that arise with this feature that was undoubtedly meant to premiere on the Disney Channel Network.

No matter your opinion on Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase it’s clear it was NEVER meant for a cinematic release. The quality of this product is nowhere near the satisfactory result that should be showcased on a cinema screen. Inside your home? Yes, but a sizeable theatre release this is certainly not. The craftsmanship on offer here is derivative of any television production you’ve seen aimed at young children in the past two decades. The swift and poorly executed edit, the magnified aspect ration of 1.85:1 with truly excessive amounts of close-ups, are all small instances that reveal to any keen eye that this was not actually produced for the format of cinema anyway.

However, presumably the inclusion of actress Sophia Lillis, known for her breakout role as Beverly Marsh in Andy Muschietti’s horror hit It and Young Camille in the critically acclaimed HBO show Sharp Objects, yet in the meantime hasn’t been picked up by a casting agent in anything remotely interesting nor seismic in the world of cinema; with the decision to head for a cinema release simply to try to coax out the same target audience for her more adult orientated work, with the idea to make a little money in the process with a wider audience. But this isn’t aimed, nor will ever engage with an R-rated crowd with just how dumbed down and utopian the film is compared specifically to It.

That being said Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase is perfect for a television/mini-series, not feature-length film material. The latter in which the film really has to stretch itself to fill such a quota with the act structure a little wobbly and elongated, especially that of a third act which is so swift, if you blink you’ll miss it.

The screenplay, by writers Nina Fiore and John Herrera, is also spectacularly poor in the standard and conviction of relatable and plausible teenagers. As mentioned above, its incredibly dumbed down to a point of simplistic mediocre oblivion. The dialogue, for instance, is tiringly senile and over-embellished manufactured teenage tosh. Another instance of having forty-year-old writers writing for fifteen-year-olds with the age differince never being so clear and stark.

All in all, Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase is just far too distinguishing in its outdated execution and comes off patronising and severely condescending to the intended target audience who will presumably think this is one of the most “uncool” things around.

Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase is in US cinemas now. The film has no current UK release date.


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