Rated R for graphic horror violence and gore, and for a scene of sexuality.
Directed By: Tim Burton
Written By: Kevin Yagher
Based On The Story By: Washington Irving
Staring: Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Christopher Walken, Miranda Richardson, Michael Gambon, Casper Van Dien, Jeffrey Jones, Christopher Lee, Lisa Marie, and Richard Griffiths
Tim Burton whisks us away into a full on fantasy world on a classic dark fairy tale. The rich feel of spooky that you immediately get from Sleepy Hollow tells you this is going to be an amazing movie to sit down and watch, and frankly it’s one of the most beautiful films I’ve ever had the joy of watching. A visual happy ending, it just doesn’t get any better than the set design and cinematography present here. With a classic tale, and Tim Burton’s masterful way of creating palpable and ingenious characters with brilliant casting, makes this one of my favorite films of his, and certainly one of my favorite to get in the mood for Halloween with.
An evil force has invaded the small village of Sleepy Hollow. With heads being found far apart from their bodies people are terrified. The locals whispers would lead travelers to believe that a creature known as the Headless Horseman is responsible, exacting revenge for its own untimely demise many years before. The “mystery” of the murders sparks interest all the way in New York City where constable Ichabod Crane, who methods of scientific evaluations and educated deductions are his specialty. In spite of his investigative techniques he at the sight of blood. Upon Crane’s investigation he doesn’t believe the story of revenge and begins to find clues that unveil mysterious revelations regarding the well-bred Van Tassel family.
Christopher Walken is the perfect part for this role and he is part of the reason the horseman’s becomes so terrifying. Yes, he is headless, but there are flashbacks that we get to see Walken’s penetrating eyes and frightening teeth. The intense fear caused by the Horseman’s various appearances around town were nearly as lethal as the raw physical power with which he operated. The character is evil and malevolent, a vicious killer with no remorse. Johnny Depp is enigmatic and tangible as the peculiar Ichabod Crane. As usual he fits into the strange outcasts created by Burton, but there is a lot more depth to Ichabod than there could have been with a lessor actor. Depp exemplifies his detachment and obsessions in an incredibly human and way that doesn’t turn him into a caricature.
The thick feeling of dread, yet a constant tingle of humor bubbling below the surface allows this film to be frightening, but it also gives it’s audience a break from the intensity of it’s mood and darker exterior. There isn’t a moment the pacing lets up or you feel remotely unstimulated. There is always something to get lost in, just like fairy tales are supposed to be. The magical world conceived and created by Burton is the true star of the film, taking on a life of it’s own.
Being the time of year, and Tim Burton being this months review star, this was a perfect time to revisit this story and recommend others see it and get in the spirit of Halloween and this eerie time of year. There are vast levels of entertainment here, and Sleepy Hollow becomes what for me, is one of Burton’s most successful creations. On every front one can desire there are levels of joy, fear, and of course romance. It wouldn’t be a Tim Burton movie without a romance somewhere in the mix of darkness. Sleep Hollow is definitely Halloween appropriate and fun throughout the year.