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Film / Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase

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Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase is a 2019 American teen mystery/comedy film directed by Katt Shea (Poison Ivy and The Rage: Carrie 2) and written by Nina Fiore and John Herrera. It is based on the book of the same name from the Nancy Drew franchise by Carolyn Keene. It was first adapted on film in 1939. It stars Sophia Lillis (of It fame), Zoe Renee, Mackenzie Graham, Laura Slade Wiggins and Sam Trammell.

Nancy Drew (Lillis) is a bit of an outsider and struggles to fit into her new surroundings. She and her pals set out to solve a mystery, make new friends, and establish their place in the community.

The film had a limited theatrical release and went Direct to Video. It is not connected to the Nancy Drew series that premiered the same year.

Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase contains the following tropes:

  • Adaptational Jerkass: Helen Corning is a good friend of Nancy's in the original book, such that she was Nancy's best friend in the first few books before being written out and replaced with Bess and George. Here, she starts out as an Alpha Bitch who eventually befriends Nancy and the gang.
  • Adaptational Villainy / Adaptational Heroism: A weird case with the two villains, Nate and Willie Wharton. As in the 1959 version of the book, Nate is the mastermind while Willie serves more as the muscle, but whereas in the book, Willie was a somewhat reluctant accomplice who never wanted to actually hurt anybody and willingly confesses his role at the end, in the movie, he threatens and physically assaults Nancy near the beginning and voices his intent to kill Flora and Carson in the climax. Inversely, Nathan Gomber in the book was a deeply unpleasant person with no positive qualities who tried to injure or kill Nancy and her father with a truck, while in the movie he is an old friend of Carson Drew's and an uncle figure to Nancy, and tries to talk Willie down from killing anyone at the end, never having wanted their crimes to escalate to murder.
  • Adaptational Early Appearance: Bess and George don't appear in either printing of The Hidden Staircase, as they hadn't been conceived of when the original book was written. They are present for the events of the film.
  • Bully Hunter: Nancy, at the beginning. She helps one of her friends who's constantly humiliated by a bully getting revenge on said bully with a prank. Said prank involves putting blue paint in his shower. It doesn't end that well for Nancy, as she's punished by way of community service (that is, picking up trash on public lawns).
  • Bully Turned Buddy: Downplayed, since Helen herself isn't directly a bully to Nancy, Bess, and George, but is an Alpha Bitch who's dating the bully that the girls humiliate with a prank, and she hates them all the more for it. They gradually talk out and overcome their differences with her, though, and she's become their friend by the end of the movie.
  • Composite Character: In both the 1930 and 1959 editions of The Hidden Staircase, Twin Elms was owned by two elderly ladies, being sisters in the first edition and mother and daughter in the second. In this film, they're combined into a single character, Flora.
  • Continuity Reboot: The film has no connection to the 2007 Nancy Drew film bar being part of the same overall franchise.
  • Cool Old Lady: Flora had a past as a Burlesque dancer, has photos of herself with Mick Jagger, and references The Matrix.
  • Missing Mom: Nancy's mother died prior to the story.
  • Related in the Adaptation: Hannah Gruen, originally depicted as Nancy's elderly housekeeper and mother figure, is her paternal aunt in this movie.
  • Setting Update: The novel was written in 1930 and revised in 1959. The film is set in The New '10s, and everyone looks accordingly.
  • Sequel Hook: At the end Helen says that her cousin Emily will coming to River Heights to get married at the Lilac Inn, referencing The Mystery at Lilac Inn, and Nancy's friends comment on the potential for a new mystery.
  • Youthful Freckles: Nancy, as she's played by Sophia Lillis, who displays them.