During "Secrets of Eden" (8 tonight, Lifetime), there's a special effect that happens whenever star John Stamos thinks back to a past episode. The figures enter the scene in slow motion before the action comes to life.
That's how I felt watching this film; it was a slow, dull slog through a slug of a film. And the action never comes to life.
Stamos plays Pastor Stephen Drew, a beloved small-town minister in Vermont who becomes a murder suspect after a member of his church Alice Hayward (Sonya Salomaa) is found dead a few feet away from her husband, who is dead too, from a bullet in the head. Their deaths leaves daughter Kate (Samantha Munro) an orphan.
At first, Drew is seen as a helpful comforting servant, but that changes when Detective Catherine Benicasa (Anna Gunn) finds Alice's journal, and discovers the pastor is not all that he seems.
I'm trying to preserve some of the secrets in "Secrets of Eden," but what you don't guess in five minutes you won't care about. I'll give the filmmakers this: It's quite a skill to make a murder mystery that doesn't have a shred of tension.
And then there are the performances. Salomaa has a nice charm about her, but nearly everyone else is unconvincing in their roles. I'd like to meet the person who said, "We need someone to play the small-town minister. Get me Stamos!" so I can shake them. Stamos rewards that original thought by looking like he's working hard to repress his smirk. There's one scene where he's counseling someone and the best he can do is purse his lips. I know he's a better actor than this. Gunn plays it so straight, she's rigid. This movie is inert; it's as dead as the two bodies that launch the story.
"Secrets of Eden" is paradise lost.