The Secret Of Sinchanee Review- Steven Grayhm Shows Potential In His Directorial Debut
The Secret Of Sinchanee is a better-than-average addition to the supernatural thriller subgenre. Some genuinely unsettling moments and quality performances make it better than you expect it to be. There are a few too many dreams within a dream sequences and a runtime that could have been trimmed by half an hour, but the unnerving imagery and beautiful landscape make it a good Fall chiller.
Writer, director, and star Steven Grayhm whose father is a descendant of the Weskarini Algonquin First Nation people of La Petite Nation (Little Nation) from Western Quebec, Canada, brings a unique perspective to the devil and demon theme that is often overdone. Grayhm has said this is a very personal story that he wanted to tell. He explores themes of xenocide, mental illness, and childhood trauma while pushing the boundaries of traditional horror filmmaking. His connection to the subject matter comes through in reverent and careful deliberation.
Similar to Sator, or The Dark And The Wicked, The Secret of Sinchanee explores what mental illness and possession have in common. In the right light, each could and does look like the other. However, Grayhm’s film takes a less subtle approach to the concept. He is more concerned with the cause and the aftermath of trauma than questioning what is happening.
Will(Grayhm) is a tow truck operator who has returned to his family home after the unexpected death of his father. His home held terrible memories for him because of a tragedy when he was very young. However, as he moves back in, he finds something has never left the sacred land. Whatever cursed the house back then never left and has now started haunting him.
The ghosts of our past continue to haunt us long after the events that caused them to fall away. Reverberations sometimes last generations or forever. Grayhm explores themes of generational mental illness through the lens of supernatural horror.
Grayhm makes the most of the location, Deerfield Massachusettes. Not only is it unforgiving in its beauty and bone-chilling cold, but the rich history the area has is perfect for a story about exploitation, genocide, and curses. Ariel shots capture the desolation that is literally whitewashed with layers of constantly falling snow. The snowpack is both a symbol of what happened there and a reminder that nature is the ultimate equalizer.
The nearly two-hour run time could have been edited down, which would have increased the intensity of the scares but curiously, the overstuffed runtime doesn’t expand enough on the native inhabitants’ angle. A rushed ending tied everything together, but earlier pacing problems caused the finale to feel too hurried and undercooked. While The Secret Of Sinchanee isn’t perfect, there is more than enough to provide plenty of jolts and startles.
A brief prologue explains the history of the Atlantow or the Mohican spirit of death. After Westerners invaded their land, bringing Christianity, Mohicans began associating Atlantow with the Devil. The conclusion of The Secret Of Sinchanee uses this fundamental belief to explain a terrible crime. It’s an intriguing idea and one that would have been better explored earlier in the film.
The Secret Of Sinchanee shows Grayhm has real potential if he can learn to edit his vision. He understands tension-building and has a knack for eerie scene creation. If he could harness that power with an eye for truncation, he could be a director to watch. Although the film has flaws there are enough scares and the unique concept is worth a watch particularly for fans of the demon subgenre. The Secret of Sinchanee is streaming everywhere you watch movies on October 8th, 2021.
As the TV/Streaming Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre tv. I grew up with old school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. When I’m not watching and writing about my favorite movies and series, I’m introducing my family to the wonderful world of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. My only regret, there is not enough time in the day to watch everything.