Alright, so this is post one of Halloween Week. It’s the annual marathon of my top 7 Halloween movies, for which I watch one every day, starting on the 25th and ending on Halloween day. These donn’t necessarily represent what I think are the best horror movies, just the ones I feel best embody the holiday. Naturally, Sleepy Hollow was one of those movies. An early pairing of Johnny Depp and Tim Burton, this movie oozes tradition and atmosphere. You would be hard pressed to find a better way to get excited about the season, which is why it used to be my October 1 movie, and before that my Halloween movie.
We all (and by “we all” I mean all normal Americans) know the story of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman, however this is a clever… Wait, you don’t know the story? No, it doesn’t involve Mr. Toad. Hmmm, thanks Walt Disney. Well, we all know there was a guy named Ichabod and he was harassed by a headless horseman in Sleepy Hollow. Fortunately for viewers of the Tim Burton film, that’s where the similarities end, so it wouldn’t really help to know the original story anyway. In this one, we get a vey complex plot full of murder, Revolutionary War mercenaries, forbidden love and vengeance. While it is a little too complicated for the kids to follow, it’s rated R and was not intended for the kids. That was people’s initial complaint when it came out, the crazy plot, but buck up and pay attention, they spell it all out for you at the end.
As far as the visual feel of the movie, Sleepy Hollow is top notch. Director, set designer, costuming and cinematography must have become very close bed fellows during production, because everything works together beautifully. The set for the Western Woods is amazing, and the Tree of the Dead is the coolest thing ever to grace celluloid, in my opinion. While I’m no historian, the characters are decked out in exactly what I would expect them to be in 1799 New England. Even the matte paintings used as backgrounds throughout the film added to the historic and eery feel. Atmosphere is the name of the game, and this one is a big time winner.
Acting in Sleepy Hollow is done by some of the best in the business. Johnny Depp is absolutely amazing as this incarnation of Crane, a logic and science obsessed constable in an age of medieval torture and detection techniques. Christina Ricci is great as the innocent daughter, naturally, and Michael Gambon, aka the first Dumbledore, is a real treat as the head of the community. Even Marc Pickering, who as far as I can tell made his big screen debut here, does a great job in his role as sidekick. It’s always good to see a quality cast in a quality production like this.
Sleepy Hollow is not what you take your girl to if you want to scare her and get her right up next to you. There are a few jumps and of course a bunch of beheadings, but we’re pretty clean overall. Depp gets a bunch of intentionally unrealistic blood spurted on hi throughout the film, but I would hardly call it scary. You watch this one for the visuals and the story, not the gore.
If you’ve never seen Sleepy Hollow, do yourself a favor and go get this. It’s especially fun this time of year, but it’s also a good one to have in your collection for whenever you want to get a little taste of Halloween. The production value is over the top, and exactly what you would expect from such a big budget release. None of that Saw crap here, Sleepy Hollow is good old fashioned horror at its best.
Fun Factor: 7