As we close in on October 31, AiPT! will be reviewing and recommending various pieces of underappreciated scary media-books, comics, movies, and television-to help keep you terrified and entertained all the way up to Halloween.
Tim Burton is quite a filmmaker and he’s got a style that is unmistakable. If you’ve seen a number of his films, then you’ll understand what I mean. His style is very dark and gothic, usually with a good amount of gore too. Knowing all this, it makes perfect sense that he would be chosen to direct Sleepy Hollow, a movie about a headless horseman going around cutting peoples heads off. I’m glad he was chosen to do this film, because it’s one that needs that dark/gothic feel.
The film begins with Johnny Depp’s character, Ichabod Crane, on his way to the small town of Sleepy Hollow to respond to the deaths that have been occurring. When he arrives, he soon finds out that he is in way over his head. He is a man that specializes in science and facts, where as with this case, those things are thrown right out the window. Here, he faces a mysterious figure that emerges at night to decapitate people, but the big question is, why?
When thinking about this film and what it’s all about, there are certain things it must get right. Visuals are a big one here, meaning both special effects and atmosphere. I can say with absolute certainty that this adaptation of the classic tale gets that right. The set design is perfect, the eerie foggy look of the town, the tree from which the Headless Horseman emerges; it all works. If Burton neglected that portion of the film, it would have been a colossal failure since the visuals and atmosphere are crucial to the telling of a story like this. The effects are good for the most part, there was only one or two small moments where I didn’t like them, they got a bit too goofy a couple times.
The performances given are pretty good overall and the portrayal of Crane by Depp worked very well. I’m really glad that Depp gave a good performance because Ricci had some moments where her acting was lacking. It wasn’t all the time, but she had times where I just couldn’t buy it. Miranda Richardson really blew me away with her performance as Lady Van Tassel as I liked her the best out of anyone.
The plot is very interesting and some cool background is given to the origin of the Headless Horseman. I’m glad they actually took the time to give some depth to the story, there is also a twist at the end that I certainly didn’t see coming when I first saw it, one that I think is really smart and handled well.There are really only a couple things I didn’t think worked here. One was Christopher Walken and the way they had him play his character. I really don’t think it was his fault, I think it was the way in which he was instructed to play the role. He has zero dialogue, his role consists of a lot of screaming for no reason, it’s all very over the top and it just gets silly after a while, which then makes it hard to take him seriously. Then the other thing is a portion of Ricci’s acting. I don’t think she’s a bad actress; I’ve seen her give good performances in other films, but her performance here lacked depth in areas.
To sum it up, Burton’s Sleepy Hollow is a very worthy adaption of the classic Headless Horseman tale. It doesn’t shy away from being appropriately dark, it creates the perfect atmosphere through a great set design, and it throws in some really interesting plot devices. With only a couple minor drawbacks, I can confidently recommend this for your Halloween viewing.