Sleepy Hollow (1999) Movie Review
Written By: MMR
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
Director: Tim Burton
Producers: Scott Rudin, Adam Schroeder, Larry Franco
Writers: Andrew Kevin Walker
Date Released: November 17, 1999
Johnny Depp as Ichabod Crane
Christina Ricci as Katrina Van Tassel
Miranda Richardson as Lady Van Tassel
Michael Gambon as Baltus Van Tassel
Christopher Walken as Hessian Horseman
Marc Pickering as Young Masbath
Jeffrey Jones as Reverend Steenwyck
Richard Griffiths as Magistrate Philipse
Ian McDiarmid as Notary Hardenbrook
Rating = 3.5/5 Graves
***May contain some spoilers***
New York Police Constable Ichabod Crane was sent to the small town of Sleepy Hollow to investigate what is happening in the small town, a series of murders of townsmen by the legendary Hessian Horseman. The Town Council convened with Ichabod to inform him that three of the victims were from the noble Van Garrett household. After the death of Jonathan Masbath, the servant of the Van Garrett family, Young Masbath pledged his services to Ichabod in order to avenge his father. The bodies of the victims were exhumed and Ichabod found out that the Van Garrett widow died with a child in her womb. Katrina Van Tassel, the daughter of the owner of the boarding house where Ichabod stays, joined their journey to the Western Woods where the grave of the horseman is located where they discovered that the head of the horseman is missing. Upon learning this, he deduced that someone alive and well was controlling the headless horseman. Baltus Van Tassel, a relative of Van Garret, was accused and a series of deaths of the town councilmen occurred. They later found out that Lady Van Tassel is alive and well and the body they found was a servant girl. Lady Van Tassel abducted Katrina and Ichabod and Young Masbath saved her by taking the head of the headless horseman from Lady Van Tassel and returned it to his grave. The headless horseman took Lady Van Tassel with him to hell and Ichabod, Katrina, and Young Masbath journeyed back to New York.
The whole story revolves around decapitated heads. There are a lot of scenes with violence and beheading were involved. In the scene where the story of the Hessian Horseman was told, it was shown that he killed off people by slashing their heads off of their bodies. Ichabod’s investigation of the exhumed bodies also showed a gory factor as headless bodies underwent autopsy. The use of body doubles or dummies achieved the visuals for the headless victims. Chromakey was also used to achieve the effect that the hessian horseman is headless. Special effects were done on the skies and on the fire. Overall, the effects achieved what the story requires.
The Grave Review
A classic Tim Burton film, Sleepy Hollow, indeed, stays to the dark themed signature of the director. Based on the short story of Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” the film’s adaptation lived quite up to the story. The presentation of Tim Burton and the impeccable acting of Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Miranda Richardson, and their supporting cast brought the story into life.
The visuals are stunning. The dark themed style of Tim Burton complemented the story of the legend of the headless horseman very well. The setting of the town is unsettling. Just by looking at the houses would give you creeps. The woods give show off a haunting effect with the bald trees and snow. In addition, the costume design fits well with the late 1700s or early 1800s style.
The story can stand on its own. It’s well-written and the characters were maximized. Not a single part of the script can be plucked out as each scene reveals an essential part of the story. The twist of Lady Van Tassel turning out alive was something unexpected and was effectively executed by the script. Her reveal was timely as the pace was rising up. Overall, the story was well-delivered. The whole film gave justice to Irving’s “The Legend of the Sleepy Hollow.”
For the foregoing reasons, Grave Reviews gives Sleepy Hollow (1999) three and a half graves out of five graves.
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