Featured image: Steven Grayhm as Will Stark in The Secret of the Sinchanee. (Courtesy of Justin Cook PR.)
In The Secret of the Sinchanee, Steven Grayhm plays Will Stark, an industrial tow truck driver suffering from bouts of insomnia, who returns to his childhood home after the death of his father. Once there, he realizes that a presence has been haunting the home, as well as the sacred ground it’s been built on.
Incorporating an interesting fictional history of the Sinchanee and Atlantow tribes (inspired by real-life atrocities against Indigenous people), this history sets the stage for the horror seen in this film, bringing in the paranormal as well as a cold case where Will’s family was murdered when he was a kid. The film really talks about the sentiment that what you fear, you try to destroy it, and that’s brought in through the history that Grahym’s created in the script.
The horror in Sinchanee is mostly with patiently shaped horror sequences, like a window slowly rising in the middle of the night as Will sleeps and his dog growls at it. It’s eerie and designed for goosebumps, with most of these contained sequences having strong payoffs. The ending, especially, feels like a strong payoff as Grahym uses some really brilliant visuals.
For my podcast/YouTube channel The Filmcraziest Show, I was able to speak with Steven about The Secret of the Sinchanee, where we talked about the history that he created for the film, getting married on the same property where they’d eventually film for the Stark House, his acting process, some of the horror scenes and more. Find that conversation on YouTube directly below:
As well, after the conversation I was able to ask him a trio of questions via e-mail:
Daniel Prinn, Filmcraziest.com: I had asked about your acting process for a character that you’ve written; but is it different for a film you’re simply acting in?
Steven Grayhm: The preparation is similar in terms of developing the character (though you have more liberties obviously in shaping the character as the writer). The approach to the performance is the same, though, knowing the character inside and out. [You’re] living with them for months so when you get to set, you can trust your instincts and let it fly!
Daniel Prinn, Filmcraziest.com: In your horror scenes, you use a lot of great lighting and shadows in the background. Can you talk about playing with those shadows, and also structuring a great horror sequence?
Steven Grayhm: I think it’s way more interesting for an audience to wonder what lurks in the shadows. Our own fear of the unknown can oftentimes be way more impactful than almost anything you can deliberately show on-screen. Toying with the torment of what is and isn’t visible; what may or may not be there, to me, is far more interesting in the storytelling, especially in this genre. In terms of structure, I think it’s important to let things simmer before they boil over. Suspense is crucial. You don’t want to give it all away in the first act, and you need to give your audience way more credit in terms of peeling back the onion.
DP, Filmcraziest.com: Who were some of your horror inspirations for this film?
Steven Grayhm: I love early Stephen King; The Shining, Misery, Pet Sematary, It. Those films are really great examples of character development with huge payoffs in the third act. In each case, we’re afforded the time to live with each of the characters before things go sideways. I also really loved Hereditary and The Conjuring films.
If you prefer to listen to the interview rather than watch it, you can either listen to the conversation below, or go here to download it.
The Secret of the Sinchanee is available on cable platforms like Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Vudu and more, and is also playing in select theatres.