Sleepy Hollow Movie Review
Reviewed By: Katy Whitton on 27 October, 2019
Genre: Fantasy, Horror, Mystery, Occult
UK Release Date: 07-01-2000
Studio: Paramount Pictures, Mandalay Pictures
This review is part of the 31 Films For Halloween Series
Ichabod Crane is an 18th Century detective who, while coming across as being brave and bold, is actually a bit of a scardy cat who hides behind science and logic to muddle his way through his cases.
Crane (Johnny is sent to the town of Sleepy Hollow to investigate a series of brutal murders that have been attributed to the spirit of a headless horseman. Crane’s arrival causes controversy amongst the townsfolk: they don’t like outsiders and are torn between having someone solve the mystery therefore saving their town and a stranger knowing their business.
This is a Tim Burton film so you know it’s going to be dark both in terms of content and cinematography. Burton takes Washington Irving’s Sleepy Hollow and changes the lead character from a school teacher to a detective but the majority of the tale is faithful to the source material, with Burton making a wonderfully atmospheric and beautiful horror film on a par with (if not outdoing) Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
Crane is a man of science, he sees the locals as backwards due to putting their faith in religion over logic and reason. When he starts investigating the murders, he’s horrified to find that the murderer is taking the heads of his victims away with him and that the wounds were cauterised (the horseman’s blade was forged in fire says the village elder).
Crane struggles to find a reasonable explanation for the murders, and is slowly coming to the realisation that there maybe dark forces at work that science can’t explain. Helping him in his investigations is Young Masbath (Mark Pickering) who is out to revenge his father who was decapitated by the horseman and Katrina Van Tassel (Christina Ricci), daughter of the Village Elder.
Masbath and Van Tassel help Crane navigate his way through village politics and local history allowing him to discover the true reasons behind the return of the headless horseman which aren’t as obvious as they first appear.
This is a great piece of atmospheric filmmaking and even though the film is 20 years old, the effects stand up really well – especially as most of them are practical and not CGI.
There are a couple of gruesome scenes involving decapitation (well, the horsemen takes heads so that’s to be expected) and I wouldn’t recommend this for smaller children, but it’s not so bloody that it would upset an older child.
Watch this if you’re interested in legends and like seeing science stumped.