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Sleepy Hollow (1999)

  Directed by: Tim Burton
Starring: Johnny Depp, Michael Gambon, Richard Griffiths, Jeffrey Jones, Christina Ricci, Miranda Richardson, Casper Van Dien, Christopher Walken
Links: Sleepy Hollow on the IMDb, Official site, Buy on Video, Buy on DVD, Buy the Soundtrack, Buy the Book
Genre: Suspense/Horror/Thriller

This movie gets: 8.50 (2 ratings) Ranking: Ranked equal 35th of 187 movies (2 ratings minimum; see full chart)

Sleepy Hollow (1999) is also mentioned in pearly's review of Big Fish (2003) and mino's review of Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004).

"A fairy-tale for grown-ups" - a review by andy-j

I saw Sleepy Hollow with Nicole, when it first came out at the cinemas (It definitely wasn't New Year's Day, Nicole. We were still in Philip Island then!). Anyway, back to the movie. Sleepy Hollow is set right at the end of the 18th Century in the umm.. sleepy town of.. Sleepy.. Hollow (sigh). Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp), a rather unconvential and eccentric constable, is sent from New York to investigate a series of murders in Sleepy Hollow. He soon finds himself out of his depth when he is told by the townsfolk, a suspicious lot, that the murders are being committed by a headless horseman. At first doubtful, Crane is turned around when he witnesses first-hand the horseman's work, and sets about solving the mystery of who or what this murderer is, and how to stop him. But he uncovers a whole lot more.

Sleepy Hollow is obviously a Tim Burton film, and what I really like about Burton's stuff is that it doesn't even try to justify its zaniness. The headless horseman is real - that's a fact. There's no justifying how it could possibly exist, the myth is just an accepted part of the film. If you can't accept this, you probably won't enjoy the film. Instead of mucking around with a whole bunch of nonsense trying to place the setting amongst the real world, we are instead drawn into the breathtaking fairy-tale fantasy world that Burton has created. The setting is surreal and compelling, creating an atmosphere that compliments the mood of the story being told. The plot is wonderful. It starts out as a story solely about the headless horseman but soon expands to encompass a whole conspiracy (reminding me a little of The Crucible (1996)). As usual, Johnny Depp delivers a wonderfully quirky performance - serious but funny at the same time - his character is a bit of a stiff weirdo, obviously completely out of his depth, but he is smart and brave enough to adapt to the situation. He is very well complimented by the rest of the cast - for example, Christina Ricci as Katrina, his love interest, and Miranda Richardson as Katrina's stepmother. Particularly memorable is Christopher Walken, whose evil intensity dominates the entire film.

There are a few things I didn't like about Sleepy Hollow. It became a little too Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) in parts, where Ichabod miraculously survives a quick succession of impossible action sequences. Even though it was exciting, it felt cheap, but I guess it's all in the name of suspending your disbelief. Also, at times the story moved far too quickly for me to keep up, and at other times it was a little too slow - it felt a little unbalanced.

Besides this though, I have lots of time for Sleepy Hollow. It is a complex fairy-tale with a unique atmosphere, a beautiful setting and a strong story. The best thing about it is that it doesn't take itself overly seriously.

andy-j gives this movie 8 out of 10.
Review created on Thu 18 Dec 2003

"More to it than you'd think" - a review by pearly

I first saw Sleepy Hollow at the cinema soon after it came out. In fact, I believe it was the first day of 2000, or maybe the second. I enjoyed it immensely; or, at least, I think I did. But the thing is, I then proceeded to totally forget about the movie for a little over three years. And then, a friend came over and wanted to watch it. So we watched it, and I enjoyed it immensely, again.

If I think about what the subject matter of Sleepy Hollow is, it doesn't jump out at me as something I will really relish. It's about the town of Sleepy Hollow in the year 1799. Ichabod Crane is a New York constable, who is interested in new-fangled detective work, like performing autopsies, and using implements and potions to work things out about victims. This is not looked upon too kindly by the establishment, so he is sent to Sleepy Hollow as a kind of punishment. He is to investigate the murders of townsfolk there, murders performed, it would seem, by a headless horseman.

Director Tim Burton creates an amazing vision of the town of Sleepy Hollow, and the people who live there. He is one of those directors who truly leaves a mark on his films; when you see a Burton film, you know you're seeing a Burton film - there is just no doubt. This type of direction is the reason for the "A Tim Burton film" credit, because the film feels like it's chanelled out of Burton's head.

The thing that's special about Sleepy Hollow is that it takes the story, which could have been just a mediocre tale, and adds humour, and a style that's fairly unique and interesting. It leaves you surprised, because you don't expect to enjoy it as much as you do.

Johnny Depp plays Ichabod Crane: Sleepy Hollow is his third pairing with Burton. They continue to work together because they click - Depp is able to play the slightly odd characters believably, and is willing to look a little foolish in his roles. The character of Crane is actually similar to the one he later plays in From Hell (2001), but at the same time, they're very different. Alongside Depp is Christina Ricci, who suits the period style of the film surprisingly well. She's a joy to watch.

The rest of the main cast consists mainly of middle-aged guys, who all work brilliantly in their roles. Together, they form a gang: the notary, the magistrate, the reverend, and so on. The standout, though, is Christopher Walken as the headless horseman himself. His eyes glare out with evil in them, and his mannerisms are like those of a savage.

Sleepy Hollow is a horror, but it's got a lot more happening than just that. Everything's true to the time, but also a little surreal. There's enough going on to warrant multiple viewings, and, if you're like me, you'll find that you want to watch it again almost as soon as it has ended.

pearly gives this movie 9 out of 10.
Review created on Fri 21 Feb 2003

Movie review statistics

Number of reviews: 2
Average rating: 8.50
Lowest rating: 8 (by andy-j)
Highest rating: 9 (by pearly)
Rating Percentage

Reader comments

  1. Wicked fun. Not a pure horror flick although it has its elements, it is enjoyable to watch over and over again.

    Rating given: 9

    A comment from Angel on Sun 25 Jul 2004 11:24 #

  2. i am johnny depps fan i have left messages everywhere i have liked him doe know since when cos its so long and great wishes to your family johnny and you and weldone in all the films i havent seen much but i will be soon ive seen the secret window and pirates of the caribbean and im goin to see more but i love you johnny with all my heart like u should love your wife and child witch i know you do if you get thid message i love you and great wishes xxxxxxx

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from serena on Wed 16 Mar 2005 17:52 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 9.50 (2 ratings)

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