Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase
Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase debuts a dozen years after Emma Roberts and the likable Nancy Drew failed to build a series of films starring the eponymous teenage sleuth.
Arriving at a time when the once-popular books by Mildred Benson and other authors writing under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene still carry minuscule cultural currency beyond nostalgic Boomers, Katt Shea’s family-friendly mystery nonetheless has the potential to appeal to those dormant fans as well as contemporary plucky tweens.
Competently made and always in motion, the adaptation smartly casts Sophia Lillis as Nancy and sticks her in the middle of a haunted house conundrum — content somewhere in the middle of the heightened perils the actress faced in It and HBO’s “Sharp Objects.”
The captivating redhead continues to be a beacon in mediocre projects, elevating the passable material through her bubbly personality and momentarily making viewers forget about transparent villains and groan-inducing attempts at humor.
Corniness and predictability aside, Hidden Staircase succeeds at its goals of playing to its intended audience, and while it’s likely to go the way of Roberts’ attempt, its disposable fun and non-cloying promotion of friendship and familial unity are a welcome change of pace.
Grade: C-plus. Rated PG. Starts March 15 at AMC Classic
(Photo: Warner Bros.