The Secret of Sinchanee
the secret of sinchanee | steven grayhm | tamara austin | nate boyer | cult | ritual | possession | possessed | religion | exorcism | exorcist | mythology | united states | laila lockhart kraner | rudy reyes | kathleen kenny | margarita reyes | mark oliver | demon
Film: The Secret of Sinchanee
Director: Steven Grayhm
Writer: Steven Grayhm
Starring: Steven Grayhm, Tamara Austin and Nate Boyer
This was a movie that I got turned on to thanks to Justin Cook when he asked if I’d be interested in seeing the screener. I confirmed as I like to watch independent cinema, especially when it is horror. Aside from that, I knew this was a 2021 release and that this might have some supernatural vibes to it. The synopsis is an industrial tow truck driver suffering from insomnia returns to his childhood home after the untimely death of his father to discover that a paranormal presence has been living in the house and haunting the sacred land it was built on.
We start this movie off with a shirtless guy walking in a creek. It is snowy out, which makes what he is wearing odd. We will learn later that his name is Wayne Codder (Don McAlister). He’s carrying a couple weapons that look like tomahawks. He is breathing heavy and falls into the water.
The movie then gives us some opening texts about this area. Around the turn of the 18th century, the English were attacked by a combination force of French and Native American soldiers. The Sinchanee were a group that was liberated during this. They were interesting as they were a mixed race that was immune to diseases from Europe. There was a group that wanted to eradicate them though. They worshipped the death spirit, Atlantow. This group is a clandestine sect of pagans who were banished for witchcraft.
For this movie, we start back 3 days before Christmas in the year 1995 Will Stark (Emmett Spriggs) is playing with his sister Grace (Alexa Luippold). Their world is turned upside down when her and their mother Enola (Raquel Lindemann-Ngyuen) are murdered by a man. Will ended up walking across ten miles of wooden land to his grandfather’s house. This brought the police who tried to get to the bottom of what happened here and who did this. He was helped by an odd Native American as well.
We then shift to present day. Will has grown up to be portrayed by Steven Grayhm. He is working as the synopsis states as an industrial tow truck driver. His father recently killed himself and he is putting off handling the estate. They’ve been estranged for years as it seems his father had mental illness. Will relents and goes to the house. He stays there as he goes about removing the items.
Going along with this, there is an overturned car that draws the attention of detective Carrie Donovan (Tamara Austin). She is from Boston, but her family lived in the area. She is here as it seems something happened at work and she has been reassigned. With her is her daughter of Ava (Laila Lockhart Kraner). Also drawn to this crash is her ex-boyfriend, detective Drew Carter (Nate Boyer). He is also the father of her child. The vehicle is associated with a missing person he is searching for. Will is also the tow truck driver that is called to the scene.
Will is forced to relive and remember the traumatic events of his past. He also becomes a prime suspect for the disappearance of this young woman as he knew her previously. She also is found dead in the woods with odd, Native American symbols carved into her body. Did Will kill her or is there something supernatural going on in these woods?
That will be where I’m going to leave my recap. Where I want to start is this history and lore the movie is building on. I didn’t into look this to see if there was this group of the Sinchanee. If there is, that’s cool to toss a bit of a spotlight on to them. If not, it doesn’t hurt the movie either. When creating lore, as long as the filmmaker knows the answers and can make me believe it, I’m on board. I even like this flipping of having these pagan believers, who I am assuming are white, going after the Native Americans. This movie references that pagans in the eyes of Christians were killed as an excuse. I like flipping this idea.
Going along with this, I think we have an interesting idea here. This cult is still living on in secret. Will might be a part of it or it might just be influencing him. It could even be a bit of possession with this house having bad spirits in it for what happened in the area. There is also this black arrowhead that might be involved as well. There is also this character of Solomon Goodblood (Rudy Reyes), who is living alone in the woods. I like that the movie had me guessing as to who we could trust and who couldn’t. We get most of this from the eyes of Carrie so that helps as well. There is also an explanation that there is nothing supernatural, but Will thinks there is. He has insomnia and trouble sleeping, which could cause him to hallucinate. I personally believe we are getting something supernatural, but that is the alternative reading.
This movie though runs too long. I’ll be honest, I got bored. It comes in around 2 hours long and I don’t think it needed to be. The movie for some reason focused on things that weren’t as interesting to me. Personally, we could have cut Drew’s character. It felt like Boyer was a bigger name they wanted to get in here. His performance isn’t bad, but I don’t know if his character adds a lot for me. The movie caught my attention with this potential cult and it takes too long to get to them. Once we do, it is over almost as soon as it starts so the payoff wasn’t there either. I did like that this movie makes reference to Ed and Lorraine Warren, without saying their name. It also takes a shot at The Conjuring universe. This is clever, being that this takes place in New England. The problem then becomes, this movie takes things that would be done in those movies and uses it. It isn’t effective though. It makes the movie feel a bit generic.
To get back to something positive, I’ll go next to the acting. I thought it was solid for the most part. Austin was solid as our lead. I found it interesting is that I’m assuming she is black, but they are playing her off as part Native American. It doesn’t affect anything there for me since she was still a person of color. I thought she does well in her role. I wish that Grayhm would have casted someone else in the role of Will. He’s a bit too wooden even when he’s not dealing with outside forces. I might be being a bit harsh since logical, he is dealing with insomnia and his father passed away. He also becomes possessed. I just didn’t get much from him as bad as I feel to say. Kraner was fine along with Reyes and Boyer. I’d say for the most part, the acting fits the characters.
Then the last things to go into would be the effects, cinematography and soundtrack. For the former, we don’t get a lot, but what we do worked for me. I’m assuming there was some CGI, but it didn’t bother me. I love the look of this pagan cult. It reminded me of the entity of wendigo or the Wrong Turn movie of the same year. I’d say the cinematography was well done also. There were solid camera angles and along with the soundtrack helped to build the atmosphere the movie needed.
So then in conclusion here, I think we have an interesting idea and premise here. They didn’t go far enough with it and decided to instead focus on aspects that weren’t as interesting. It feels like a cheap imitation of a Conjuring universe movie. That isn’t to say there aren’t some good things here though. The acting is solid for the most part. The effects, cinematography and soundtrack all help to build the atmosphere they needed. I just wanted more of this Native American tribe and the cult that is after them. I would then say that this movie is just over average due to my issues with it.
My Rating: 5.5 out of 10
The Secret of the Sinchanee is available in select theaters and on all major digital and cable platforms including Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, Comcast, Spectrum, Cox and more.