Sleepy Hollow (1999) starring Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Miranda Richardson, Michael Gambon, Casper Van Dien, Christopher Walken, Marc Pickering directed by Tim Burton Movie Review

Sleepy Hollow (1999)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci in Sleepy Hollow (1999)

In an Ichabod of Trouble

I guess as a Brit I am at a bit of a disadvantage when it comes to Tim Burton's "Sleep Hollow" because I had never heard of Washington Irving's story on which it is based and I guess for American's it is part of their schooling or at least growing up where here in the UK it isn't. It means that for me "Sleepy Hollow" ends up being just a Tim Burton and Johnny Depp movie rather than a new version of a classic story. I say just but in fairness it is pretty decent delivering the darkly and often amusing gothic feel associated with Burton whilst Depp delivers yet another well acted quirky character. In fact because I had no previous connection to the story "Sleepy Hollow" ends up a movie where the storyline failed to grab me but the look, the characters and acting did.

As the 18th century edges closer to its end, young constable Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp - Edward Scissorhands) with his new ideas on how to solve crime is dispatched to the small town of Sleepy Hollow where several murders have taken place with people being decapitated. In over his head but determined to solve the case with scientific reasoning Ichabod doesn't believe in the local legend of the Headless Horseman but soon changes his mind when he encounters him first hand. Shocked but undeterred Ichabod with the help of Young Masbath (Marc Pickering) and Katrina Van Tassel (Christina Ricci - That Darn Cat) set about discovering why the Headless Horseman is beheading the residents.

Miranda Richardson as Lady Van Tassel in Sleepy Hollow (1999)

So as already mentioned I struggled to really get into the actual story and I am sure it has something to do with the fact it is an adaptation of a classic tale which seems to be well known in America. Having said that there is nothing wrong with the storyline as we have Ichabod solving the mystery of the headless horseman and the deaths in Sleepy Hollow. In fact with Tim Burton's mix of humour and horror it is entertaining but it didn't really grip in the way that it appears to have done with others.

But then in a strange way I don't mind this because what "Sleepy Hollow" ends up for me is like a journey into Tim Burton's mind. From the small, damp and cold looking town of Sleepy Hollow to the darkly funny elements such as when Ichabod looks at the first beheaded corpse, struggling to stop himself from being sick it is all entertaining. It is basically visually captivating and the attention to detail is spectacular with both plenty going on but also a sense of atmosphere that even if you don't get into the storyline the whole look and style will keep you entertained.

And on the subject of entertainment Johnny Depp will certainly keep you entertained as he gives Ichabod a touch of the Sherlock Holmes as he tries to use scientific reasoning to solve crimes. It is another wonderful performance from Depp who has this ability to deliver quirky visual humour in such a way it feels natural, making you laugh by being awkwardly humorous without making it feel intentional. Depp's performance is not the only entertaining one and Burton has a lot of his regulars appear in small parts but more importantly Christina Ricci who as a young actress at the time holds her own magnificently with Depp.

What this all boils down to is that whilst "Sleepy Hollow" entertained I didn't get gripped by the storyline as much as others seem to have. Instead the whole style, the darkly amusing vision of Burton coupled with another amusingly quirky performance from Johnny Depp was what ended up keeping me interested.