Movie Magazine International

Sleepy Hollow

USA - 1999

Movie Review By Heather Clisby

"Sleepy Hollow" is one of those 'I-can't-wait-until-it-comes-out!' movies that seemingly has all the right ingredients. Directed by Tim Burton, starring Johnny Depp, based on the story by Washington Irving, it does honor the writer's original horrific intentions but still has some Hollywood gloss where edges could've remained sharp.

First of all, let me just say this: Having Tim Burton in Hollywood is like having your best friend employed at the DMV, it's the only assurance you have that quality human beings are actually allowed to work there. I depend on him to create things dark and creepy, shadowy and wormy, without getting caught up in sappy moralistic emotional goo. "Sleepy Hollow" is fully Burtonized with blood-dripping trees, dark, foreboding skies and lush costuming all wrapped up in a bewitching Danny Elfman score.

Johnny Depp leads the film, truly, as Ichabod Crane, a criminal investigator banished to Sleepy Hollow from New York City to try out his silly new forensic techniques. Maybe I've still got "Dead Man" and "Ed Wood" in my head but I found his character irresistibly funny in his sudden predicament. Mind you, I love laughing but not when I had high hopes of being terrified.

Joy of joys, Christopher Walken, my favorite actor of all time, is cast as the Horsemen. With a blood-curdling cry and teeth filed to points for effect, the guy is just your worst nightmare. As carefully explained in the prologue, this was/is a guy who simply loves carnage. Why he still pursues his favorite pastime long after his death is something for Mr. Crane to deduce . . .

Christina Ricci is the love interest, Katrina Von Tassel, and for all her talents, her lines are delivered like someone who has worked on memorization very hard and practiced their English accent very carefully. Ricci is a superb actress but this was not the role for showcasing, it was much too rehearsed.

The strength of this film is its' old-fashioned scare tactics. Sure, the special effects are indeed special but it was the approaching roar of the horse's hooves that gave me the shivers, like the loudness of your own heartbeat scaring the crap out of you.

Filmed in England, the thick fog, twisted vines, stone walls and covered bridges of the film set a strong scene for chills. "Sleepy Hollow" is an honest, fun fright that probably won't give you nightmares but may inspire a newfound love for your own head. Don't lose it.

© 1999 - Heather Clisby - Air Date: 11/24/99

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