Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase is a movie based on the 1939 book of the same name by Carolyn Keene. It’s the second novel in the popular Nancy Drew mystery series.
This version of the story has a contemporary setting, which sees Nancy Drew and her father move from Chicago to the small town of River Heights following the death of Nancy’s mother. Nancy misses her friends and her life in Chicago but keeps herself entertained by fighting social injustice with rebellious tactics that sometimes get her into trouble.
One day she overhears an eccentric older woman telling the sheriff about ghosts that haunt her house. Intrigued, Nancy offers to help the woman discover the source of the hauntings and arranges to stay a night in the house. When night falls, strange things start happening and the night quickly descends into a spooky and disorientating nightmare. When Nancy wakes up in the morning, she’s even more determined to discover exactly what’s going on.
Nancy and her friends must work together and use their powers of deduction to unravel the mystery.
Death of a parent; social justice; cyberbullying; supernatural; mystery; crime; friendship
Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase has some violence. For example:
- Nancy is on her skateboard in a dark alley. A car catches up with her and corners her. A man gets out and threatens Nancy violently. He says, ‘I’m not a violent man, but I will hurt people if I have to’.
- When Nancy tells her father about the car, her father shouts in anger, ‘I’m going to kill this guy!’
- A man in a pig mask holds Nancy around the throat.
- Nancy’s father and the old lady are held prisoner and tied to chairs with cable ties.
- A villain uses chloroform to drug the deputy sheriff and steal his gun.
Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase has some sexual references. For example:
- An older woman describes her past career as a burlesque dancer and talks about her various romantic partners. She calls them her ‘gentleman callers’.
- A teenage boy in a gym tries to chat up girls in a sleazy way. He ogles them as they work out.
- Nancy’s father hugs his friend and Nancy says, ‘Ew … get a room!’
- There is some very mild flirtation between Nancy and the deputy sheriff.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase shows some use of substances. For example:
- Several scenes show characters who’ve been ‘drugged’ with a hallucinogenic chemical.
- Nancy accuses someone of ‘drinking on the job’.
Nudity and sexual activity
Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase has some nudity and sexual activity. For example, a teenage boy is shown half undressed in the gym shower room.
The following products are displayed or used in Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase: iPhones.
Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase has frequent but fairly mild language, including ‘butt’, ‘son of a …’, ‘Jesus Christ’ and ‘You’re not as big a tool as I thought you were’.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Nancy Drew and The Hidden Staircase breathes fresh life into the Nancy Drew mysteries and brings her rebellious and spunky character to a new audience. The movie is likely to appeal to tweens who love a bit of a scare and the thrill of a mystery to solve. It might even inspire children to get into reading the Nancy Drew books.
There are one or two very scary moments (which are resolved quickly), some violence and fairly frequent but mild coarse language. For these reasons, Nancy Drew and The Hidden Staircase isn’t suitable for children under the age of nine years.
The main messages from this movie are that it’s important to take action when you come up against social injustice, and that things aren’t always as they seem.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include:
- standing up against bullies
- using deduction, rational thinking and logic to solve problems.
This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues like:
- Judging someone’s character by the way they look
- breaking the law, even for a good cause.