Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Film Review: Sleepy Hollow (1999)

Sleepy Hollow (Review)
United States/1999
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Instant: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...it is a very dark, charming, and entertaining package."

In 1799, constable Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp) is sent to Sleepy Hollow to investigate several beheadings...

Sleepy Hollow follows Crane as he arrives at the small titular village. He learns of the grisly murders: decapitations and missing heads at the hands of the Headless Horseman. He also learns the legend of the Headless Horseman – a ruthless and headless Hessian mercenary who rides at night in search of his head. Although a man of reason, Crane eventually begins to believe the tales when the beheadings continue and when he finally encounters the Headless Horseman. Slowly but surely, he begins to piece together the mystery. It's an interesting plot, although it has a few dull moments. The ending of the film was a bit underwhelming, though. You know, it has that classic scene where the antagonist is revealed, then the entire master plan is described in vivid detail – exposition.

Sleepy Hollow is a great horror-mystery film, despite the few issues I had with the plot. It brings you into such a wonderfully grim world with a fascinating atmosphere. The story is engaging, especially the folklore surrounding the tale; if you love folklore, you'll love this. There are a few surprises here and there thanks to the mystery and investigation, too. There are plenty of thrills and wicked decapitations thanks to the use of the Headless Horseman. The gore was very impressive, often being the focal point of the surprises. Then, there's the witty and droll humor – I chuckled a few times. All-in-all, it is a very dark, charming, and entertaining package.

Johnny Depp leads the cast with a splendid performance. He's fully immersed into his character, blending seamlessly with his environment. Christina Ricci, on the other hand, was a little dull. Actually, I think most of the younger cast was monotonous. Fortunately, most of the acting is great. The film is visually beautiful, the cinematography and camerawork are wonderful. The costume and set design are gorgeous. The music is also perfect in setting the tone, conjuring plenty of thrills and scares. The film is directed by Tim Burton from a screenplay written by Andrew Kevin Walker and Tom Stoppard. Aside from the blatant exposition during the finale, the writing is fine. Tim Burton's direction, his ability to craft this whimsically horrifying world, is truly a spectacle to behold. Although not perfect by any means, this is one of my favorite Burton films.

Overall, Sleepy Hollow is great. There are a few pacing issues and a few notable flaws during the ending – it's not perfect. Fortunately, it is very entertaining. It is a wonderful blend of horror, thriller, and mystery. The film brings you into a wonderful world thanks to Depp's brilliant performance and Burton's superb direction. If you're a fan of Depp or Burton, or if you simply love horror and folklore, this is a must-watch film.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore.

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