Justice for Debbie
It had only been a few hours earlier that the family had been together enjoying a nice lunch together, so when Susan (Gail O'Grady - After the Fall) receives a call late at night telling her that her daughter, Debbie Martin (Bree Williamson - Love You to Death), has committed suicide she is shocked and heart broken. Alongside Debbie's preacher husband, Andrew (Chris Gartin - Jane Doe: The Harder They Fall), Susan grieves but slowly becomes to suspect that Debbie's death was not suicide and Andrew in fact murdered her. Finding that hard to believe herself Susan sets out on a dangerous course to prove Andrew murdered Debbie and in doing so threatens to tear the small town community apart.
It isn't that long in to "Sins of the Preacher", originally known as "Murder in a Small Town", that we become aware that Andrew, a preacher, is the guilty party. From the lies he tells to the questioning looks others give him it is extremely clear and that means that this movie, which is based on a true story, is not about who did the killing but how and why they did it. But before it gets to the how and why of Andrew's motive there is the initial convincing of Susan who is furious when her friends question whether it was suicide and whether Andrew was involved. That is a key scene because this movie wants to play on the audiences feelings that who can you trust if not a man of the cloth, whilst also wanting to play on the ramifications of his guilt to the entire community.
The trouble with "Sins of the Preacher" focusing on the how and the why is that the how and the why doesn't actually intrigue you that much. Yes there is the subject of Debbie being discovered in a locked room but it isn't really that intriguing. Maybe if they had taken the time to build up the mystery more so that all of a sudden we realise the preacher husband is a bad guy then it would work but it feels like we are dumped in to the middle of things with a rushed back story. That is another problem with "Sins of the Preacher" as it has scene after scene of gratuitous exposition so that those bits of story placed into dialogue don't need to be dramatized but it ends up forcing the narrative and even more adding to that sense of rushing things.
In the end the thing which saves "Sins of the Preacher" is the appeal of the cast as whilst none of them deliver a bad performance they don't give amazing performances either because the characters are under developed. As such the likeability of Gail O'Grady comes in to play and it is easy to side with her without any character background. But this lack of character depth and the other issues makes "Sins of the Preacher" feel more like a fictional crime drama rather than one which is inspired by a true story.
What this all boils down to is that "Sins of the Preacher" didn't do it for me and ended up a pretty standard drama about a woman getting proof that her son-in-law killed her daughter whilst also uncovering why and how. The whole thing has that feel of a movie made on the quick rather than made with a passion to make something special which in turn makes this an ordinary movie.