Sleepy Hollow

Sleepy Hollow ★★★★½

I remember being somewhat disappointed in this movie when I saw it in the theatre back in 1999. As an enormous Tim Burton fan and as someone who has been terrified of the Headless Horseman ever since I first heard the story as a very young child, maybe my expectations were too high? Today, I watched it for (I'm pretty sure) the first time since I saw it in the theatre, the first time in 16 years. And man, I cannot figure how I didn't love this movie the first time out.

For starters, this is easily one of Burton's most visually accomplished films. The sets, the art direction, the cinematography are all utterly amazing, the entire film drenched in beautiful gothic horror detail under grey, cloudy, windblown skies. Second, this film is BRUTAL. It's very much a no-holds-barred horror film, with more on-screen decapitations than I believe I've ever seen, and Burton does not skimp on the gore or the scares. Third, the cast is great. Johnny Depp is an excellent Ichabod Crane (and this is one of his rare non-gimmicky performances), and Christina Ricci, Michael Gambon, Miranda Richardson, Jeffrey Jones, and Richard Griffiths are all clearly having a good time.

Bottom line: this is maybe not quite on the level with Burton's very best work (ED WOOD, EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, BEETLEJUICE, PEE WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE, MARS ATTACKS!...), but it's one of his best and I feel silly for not realizing it for a whole 16 years.

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