★★★ out of ★★★★★
The Secret of Sinchanee boasts solid acting from its ensemble cast and an effectively eerie atmosphere, but tries to delve into what feels like too many ideas for one film.
Directed by Steven Grayhm
Steven Grayhm stars in, directs, and wrote supernatural feature The Secret of Sinchanee, a sprawling, ambitious effort that runs just shy of two hours. Though the film has many positives going for it, overall it feels like Grayhm was trying to cram too much into his first feature at the helm. Perhaps trimming some ideas or saving them for his next feature might have made this effort a bit stronger.
Will Stark (Grayhm) returns to his family home after many years away. His mother and sister were brutally murdered there when he was just a young boy, and he had been estranged from his recently deceased father for years. He has inherited the home, and everything in it — including some supernatural goings-on.
His childhood friend has been found dead, and he becomes a person of interest when newly relocated local detective Carrie Donovan (Tamara Austin) and her former lover and fellow detective Drew Carter (Nate Boyer) begin investigating the case. It doesn’t help matters that Stark has been branded the local weirdo.
With differing quantities of police procedural, serial killer, family drama, ghost story, Native American curses, and PTSD subplots, Grayhm gives himself many elements to juggle. Some feel like they could use more fleshing out while others would have probably made the pacing a bit stronger had they been cut.
Overall, though, The Secret of Sinchanee has plenty of fine qualities and is worth a watch. The cast members all give strong performances, which is reason enough to seek out the film. The Native American mythology angle is intriguing and well portrayed. The framing, cinematography, and editing are all terrific. And though the horror occurs sporadically, when it does, it is potent in its creepiness, as Grayhm goes for mood rather than shocks or gore, and does so successfully.
Review by Joseph Perry
The Secret of Sinchanee will be available from Vertical Entertainment in select theaters and on all major digital and cable platforms from October 8, 2021.