A tangled, convoluted and over-explained horror tale, “The Secret of Sinchanee” goes kind of wrong — dare I say it? — from its opening title.
If you need a full page of credits explaining an ancient blood feud between a mixed-race Indian tribe, the Sinchanee,” and a pagan cult hell that wanted to “eradicate the bloodline,” and never quite succeeded but still haunts this corner of snowy Massachusetts all these centuries later, you’re already buried in script clutter before a single scene plays out.
The feature directing debut from writer/director/star Steven Grayhm takes forever to get going as he struggles to tie together that age-old battle with events from a troubled guy’s childhood and his haunted, murder-investigated present-day.
And all this third act shouting and over-acting (at least they’re “acting”) by the two cops (Tamara Austin, Nate Boyer) on the case doesn’t translate into “exciting.”
Will (Grayhm) has just lost his father. And because of an infamous crime decades before, the family house out in the woods of Deerfield just won’t sell.
Will has trouble with nightmares and visions, things he saw as a child that relate somehow to weird occurrences hitting him now.
The spooky piano player tells him to “return it to its rightful place,” meaning a talisman he acquired long ago.
And the cops? They’re digging into his involvement from Will’s childhood that might tie him to the murder of somebody he used to know.
All this connects to the Sinchanee, the “new” tribe of intermarried Natives and white settlers, and the cultish Atlantow, who vowed to wipe them out. Somehow. I mean, the facepaint gives that away.
The film spends over an hour showing Will slowly — oh-so-slowly– cracking up at the strain, the cops looking at old interrogation footage from “The Starke/Cotter Murders” case long ago and people wandering in the snow, searching in the snow, finding a body in the snow.
The odd arresting candlelit sequence, fireside shadow scare show bit or attempted chase doesn’t add up to a two hour movie.
The director/star deemed that Will looking for his missing dog was worth 15 minutes of screen time, so you can see what we’re up against here.
Rating: unrated, violence
Cast: Steven Grayhm, Tamara Austin, Nate Boyer, Laila Lockhart Kraner and Rudy Reyes.
Credits: Scripted and directed by Steven Grayhm. A Vertical release.
Running time: 1:55