Visually interesting but living up to the second word of its title, SLEEPY HOLLOW is an empty bag of tricks that never lives up to its potential.
Oozing Tim Burton style, the film introduces us to timid Inspector Ichabod Crane, played by Johnny Depp in his third film with Burton. In comparison to other Depp/Burton collaborations like Willy Wonka, Depp’s Crane is absolutely composed, but Depp does manage to squeeze in plenty of over-mannered high-pitched screams and quirky reactions.
Ichabod has plenty to be terrified of, with a headless horseman thundering through the dark countryside and lopping off heads in graphic R-rated fashion.
That’s one way to bloody your complicated English frocks.
It’s hard for me to believe that the film is written by Andrew David Walker, the same man that wrote the brilliant “Se7en” for David Fincher four years previous. Maybe he just scripted all the gruesome ways for major characters to die one by one like a costume drama Agatha Christie novel.
Christina Ricci is good as Katrina Van Tassel and a who’s who of English actors populate the film, but the best casting is Christopher Walken as the jagged toothed horseman looking for his head. He manages to make the biggest impression on screen without ever saying a single word.
The mystery of Sleepy Hollow keeps you guessing but never really carries any emotional weight, so you’re left to admire the incredible sets and production design as our squeamish Ichabod squeals and gulps his way through the countryside.
Burton has said he was inspired by the Hammer horror films of the 60’s and in tribute to them, even manages to squeeze Christopher Lee and Michael Gough from that era in for cameos.
Danny Elfman’s score is okay, blending into the woodwork and nearly identical to many other Burton scores he’s composed. Meh.
Depp has famously said that he never saw the movie because he hates the way he acts in it.
Thanks Johnny. You could have given me a warning and saved me two hours.
Both SLEEPY and HOLLOW, this beautifully empty Gothic tale gets a C-.