Review: Sleepy Hollow (1999)

Sleepy Hollow (1999)

Directed by: Tim Burton | 105 minutes | fantasy, horror, thriller | Actors: Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Miranda Richardson, Michael Gambon, Casper Van Dien, Richard Griffiths, Marc Pickering, Christopher Walken, Jeffrey Jones, Christopher Lee, Ian McDiarmid, Michael Gough, Lisa Marie, Steven Waddington, Claire Skinner

A horror movie without horror? Yes, ‘Sleepy Hollow’ can best be described like that. However, director Tim Burton has tackled it in such a way that this bloodless horror film has become worth watching. You can read below how he did that.

‘Sleepy Hollow’ is slightly based on Washington Irving’s classic story. Burton has thoroughly overhauled the story, so that he could easily spread it out into a full-fledged 105-minute feature film. In the original story the lead role was for a singing (!) teacher, in ‘Sleepy Hollow’ the profession of the main character has changed into the more exciting job of a police officer. Johnny Depp plays the progressive Ichabod Crane who has solved many murders with his strange methods. Can he also solve the mystery of the ‘headless horseman’ (Walken)?

You soon discover that Burton has built his film around rather ‘weird’ characters and atmospheric locations. The horror level in ‘Sleepy Hollow’ is therefore very low. Apart from a few bloodless beheadings, there are few creepy moments in the film. And that doesn’t bother for a moment, because the film is very entertaining.

Burton is a master at evoking a Gothic, foreboding fairytale atmosphere and ‘Sleepy Hollow’ is no exception. Gloomy colours, dark lighting and sleekly designed locations create a special atmosphere.

Johnny Depp is on a roll in his role as Crane. This character is cowardly, otherworldly and weird. Yet Depp manages to arouse a lot of sympathy with his infectious playing. Even when Crane uses a small boy as a human shield to explore a cave, he remains sympathetic and empathetic. The typical anti-hero makes for many fun and funny scenes. But Christopher Walken also stands out in his very brief role as the headless rider. In a few minutes he manages to create an interesting and intriguing character. Very handsome.

Unfortunately, the other characters are less imaginatively designed. The well-known scheming politicians, the pretty and overly sweet girl and the bold village hero: you know it. The actors deliver good acting, but they are not very interesting. Well cast by the way. It soon becomes clear that ‘Sleepy Hollow’ revolves around Burton’s muse: Depp.

‘Sleepy Hollow’ has become a typical Burton film that mainly revolves around atmosphere and the portrayal of Depp. Fans of the quirky director should definitely give this film a shot.

Comments are closed.