Thursday, October 11, 2012

REVIEW: Sleepy Hollow

Sleepy Hollow
Director: Tim Burton
Year 1999
Sleepy Hollow is an insanely atmospheric flick which brings the tale of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman to stark and often gruesome life. Presented in that bizarre Tim Burton style, the film relies on haunting imagery and quirky characters to move the story along, and with its abundance of creepy locations and eye opening sequences the movie is a feast for the imagination. Sleepy Hollow is without a doubt the perfect film to watch on a cold, dark and haunting Halloween night.
The film is set in the quiet town of Sleepy Hollow, where a mysterious headless horseman, born from legend, has begun decapitating the townsfolk. Constable Ichabod Crane is sent to look into the murders, bringing with him his new world investigative methods, which could prove to be worthless once the nature of the killings is revealed to be of the supernatural kind. As the bodies begin to pile up and Crane’s own life threatened on a number of occasions, could this case be the death of the awkwardly timid constable or will he be able to unravel the mystery that has rendered this quaint little town into a vice of fear and paranoia?

Johnny Depp stars as the often clumsy, but ultimately brave, Constable Ichabod Crane. With a cunning mind and a headstrong disposition, Depp gives Crane a heroic nature that really allows us as the audience to root for him to the very end. His mannerisms and deductions of logic are emphatically enjoyable to see play out and the way in which he carries himself when onscreen is a perfect example of the actor’s powerful screen presence. Often at times Depp tends to let the bizarre traits of his characters to get the best of him, whether for good or bad, but in Ichabod Crane’s case he hits a nice balance that allows the more humanistic and relatable traits of the character to take center stage. Though Crane does have his fair share of whimsical and silly moments, the absurd and darkly comedic approach fits perfectly amidst Burton’s bleak recreation of this morbid little tale.
As for the rest of the cast, you could basically say that this film is filled to the brim with a who’s who of iconic actors. First and foremost is Christina Ricci who takes on the role of Katrina Van Tassel. Her hauntingly beautiful appearance and soft spoken nature is a godsend unto the production and the way that her character walks the fine line between friend and foe, thanks to the mixture of witchcraft and the thick atmosphere of paranoia that Burton has created within the story, is magical in its presentation and ultimate execution. This paranoia is emphasized all the more with the inclusion of a conspiracy that includes all the main players of the town portrayed by Michael Gambon, Jeffrey Jones, Richard Griffiths, Ian McDiarmid, and Michael Gough. This collection of character actors is one of the film’s shining assets and each of the legendary thespians give a mesmerizing performance. Not to be outdone, the movie also boasts some intensely acted performances by Christopher Walken and Miranda Richardson, who take on more overtly sinister roles within the story. It goes without saying that Sleepy Hollow has a cast to die for and the filmmakers waste no opportunities in allowing the actors to prove their worth.

When it comes to haunting atmosphere, Sleepy Hollow takes the cake. Drenched in a hypnotic fog of moody visuals, the film is a vivid nightmare come to life. It’s not that surprising that the movie looks this good because Tim Burton is famous for injecting that ambient style into everything that he creates, but in Sleepy Hollow it is established to perfection. Everything seems to fit just right and the overall tone is without question one of the most harmonious of Burton’s creations. The town’s gloomy landscape, the fog shrouded graveyard, the sinister cornfields guarded by an equally sinister scarecrow, the demented and twisted forests, and the bone chilling views of Van Tassel Manor, are a crowning achievement in atmospheric horror. Needless to say, the examples of the film’s poignantly creepy imagery go on and on.
Accompanied by the movie’s panache for unsettling visuals is the film’s lust for the grotesque and the macabre. Time and time again we are submerged in disturbing moments that unabashedly thrust upon us shots of beheadings, lacerations, and corpses a plenty, but strangely enough it all feels fun and carefree as the nature of the film is lensed in a fantastical light. We are absorbed in the violence but because of the presentation of this bizarre and fairytale like world, we don’t become disturbed by it but rather entranced at its savage and demented temperament. This strange but effective approach also allows the comedic aspects of the film to blend seamlessly into the narrative without bringing us out of the sequence at hand. Out of all of Tim Burton’s bizarre masterpieces, I’d say that Sleepy Hollow is definitely one of his most accomplished and aesthetically succinct productions and the quality is just unparalleled across the board.

Sleepy Hollow is an astoundingly fun film that blends horror, mystery and comedy into an unusual concoction that entertains to no end. Headlined by an all-star cast and performed with a kinetic energy that begs the audience to join in on the adventure, the movie is a fantastical and horror tinged blast. Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci make for a compelling on screen duo, with Depp giving one of his most accomplished performances to date. The turmoil of his character, both in the events of the film and in his troubled past, are portrayed acutely by the eccentric actor and I find it impossible to resist the sweeping narrative once Ichabod Crane begins unraveling this most disturbing mystery.
On par with the rest of the production, the visuals are simply outstanding as it leaves the viewer breathless with its unbridled passion for delivery top notch atmospheric landscapes and spine tingling locations. Everything is surreally depicted as if plucked from a dream, and the way in which Burton has fused that feeling between his diverse cast and the world that they are set in, is remarkably unified and exceptionally authentic. Though the movie has a tendency to get quite ridiculous and flighty, it never seems to break from the mold that it has set in place, giving proof that the potent atmosphere that the film delivers is an unbreakable fixture of the production and an accomplishment in its own right. If you’re searching for that perfect Halloween flick to satisfy your October horror cravings, then give this impressive gem a try. Just try not to lose your head! Sleepy Hollow is without a doubt an…..

Sleepy Hollow.... what a shithole.

You better back off Depp! Casper doesn't like dudes hording in on his chicks.

Hi-yo, Silver.... AWAY!

Johnny Depp, you're such a card.

Christopher Walken is one creepy bastard.

That's a neat trick lady, but I'm more impressed in your other talents.

These guys look like they're up to something.

What a horrible time to lose ones head.

Well someone's a messy baby.

I can't pee if you keep watching me like that.

What are you up to Ichabod Crane?

Now that's one freaky-ass tree!

Looks like you have one hell of a head collection going on there buddy.

The Headless Horseman has a thing for cleavage.

Now that was one hell of a crazy party!

Holy Shit! Michael Bay attacks the Sleepy Hollow set!

Come back with my eyebrows you headless bastard!

Christopher Walken is ready for his close-up.

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