Film review: Sleepy Hollow (1999), directed by Tim Burton
Young Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp), a policeman of science, comes to little Sleepy Hollow to investigate a number of beheadings. The townsfolk think he may as well put his forensic tools away – the murderer is the Headless Horseman (Christopher Walken), a Hessian mercenary from the Revolutionary War who spread terror all around while he was alive, and now continues in death. He’s lost his head, you see, and he’s keen to get it back. Very keen.
At first, Crane naturally assumes the horseman to be an urban legend, but when he encounters the terror himself, and sees him with his own eyes, he realises maybe there’s something to this story after all. It would seem that the person who has the head controls the homicidal headless horseman, but the question is, who has the head and what exactly do they wish to accomplish with these brutal slayings?
Also starring Christina Ricci as Katrina Van Tassel, Miranda Richardson as Lady Van Tassel, Michael Gambon as Baltus Van Tassel, Casper Van Dien as Brom Van Brunt, Jeffrey Jones as Reverend Steenwyck, Christopher Lee as the Burgomaster, with cameos by Richard Griffiths as Magistrate Philipse, and Alun Armstrong as the High Constable.
Moody atmosphere, luscious period clothing, lots of familiar faces, and done by Tim Burton. You can’t ask for much more than that. Maybe that can be classed as being easily pleased, but hey, it works for me. I’m sitting on the sofa being entertained and that’s all I’m asking for.
Johnny Depp is supposed to play a 24-year-old in this film. He was around 36 at the time. How’s that for being well-preserved? (He’ll turn 50 (!) this June. Wow.) As usual, he’s great. Surprisingly, Helena Bonham Carter does not feature in this film along with him, so instead (I guess) we have the brilliant Miranda Richardson, of whom I’d like to see more. Like Michael Gambon – he has done many more roles than just Professor Dumbledore, after all.
So yeah, strong cast, spooky setting and severed heads galore. It’s just like a Tim Burton film, although technically not as quirky as you’d expect. It’s not Goth for the sake of it – in fact, it’s not particularly Goth at all. It’s good, though. Creepy and imaginative.
4 out of 5 windmills.