Thursday, August 25, 2016

Movie Review: "Sleepy Hollow" (1999)

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Movie"Sleepy Hollow"
Director: Tim Burton
Year: 1999
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Constable Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp) is sent to the rural town of Sleepy Hollow to investigate a string of grizzly beheadings. He quickly discovers a ghostly headless horseman is the one committing these acts, but he is determined to discover who is controlling the horseman behind the scenes. 

Directed by Tim Burton, "Sleepy Hollow" is a ghostly, supernatural re-imagining of the classic Washington Irving gothic horror tale. It stars Johnny Depp as Ichabod Crane, a constable from New York who is sent to investigate a string of murders in the small town of Sleepy Hollow. Crane is a character that believes in science and reason in a time of superstition and a strong theocracy. He plans to use his scientific method to discover and determine who is committing the murders in Sleepy Hollow. The townspeople already seem to believe they know who is perpetrating these violent decapitations: the headless specter of a Hessian known as The Headless Horseman. The Horseman is actually played by two actors, Christopher Walken when he appears as the Hessian with his head on, and Ray Park (though not credited) whenever he is without a head. Neither actor speaks a single line of dialogue in the whole film. We'd imagine it'd be kind of hard to talk when you don't have a head, but this antagonist is still just as scary even without any spoken lines. Joining these aforementioned actors is an ensemble cast featuring the likes of Christina Ricci, Michael Gambon, Miranda Richardson, Ian McDiarmid, Jeffery Jones, Richard Griffiths, Casper Van Dien, and Michael Gough, who flesh out the prominent, key members of Sleepy Hollow. As Crane digs deeper and deeper into the mystery of this seemingly supernatural being, things are not what they appear and he realizes those he thought he could trust in this tiny town might be the very people involved in these horrible murders.

Like most of Tim Burton's films, the visuals are quite alluring with a wonderful, twisted gothic look. Burton doesn't always make R-rated movies, but when he does, he's sure to add a lot of creepy vibes and maimed body parts. He has always had a penchant for the macabre, and this is no exception, however, this film lets him really take his dark yet artful vision to the next level. There is no shortage of rolling, flinging, flying chopped off heads, or people being chopped in half, or impaled, enough to satisfy every horror fan imaginable. In fact, this is one of his bloodiest projects, but this isn't a typical horror film and it's much more ghost-centric and super-normally inclined. The goal is not to necessarily scare the audience or make them jump out of their seats, but rather, to display some pretty horrific acts of violence perpetrated by an undead, headless former war mercenary in this gothic horror fantasy. It's much more dramatic than your typical slasher gore-fest, so this might isolate some viewers only looking to watch the aforementioned heads roll. The acting is compelling for the most part. There is quite a bit of humor in this film as well, mostly coming from Johnny Depp's odd, slightly off portrayal of Ichabod Crane. Ichabod's somewhat nervous mannerisms and his reaction to spurts of blood are good for a chuckle or two mixed in with all of the plasma and gore going on. While the story is engaging, it moves pretty slow even though it isn't very long. Overlooking this one complaint, ultimately, we really enjoy the experience "Sleepy Hollow" offers and think Burton was an excellent choice to bring this story to a modern audience.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 67%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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