3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Horror raised to the level of an art form,
This review is from: Sleepy Hollow [DVD]  (DVD)
This is the most magnificent horror movie I have ever seen and one of favorite movies of all time. One of the main motivations for my buying a DVD player a couple of years ago was the desire to own Sleepy Hollow in the ultimate format. Normally I have nothing but disdain for a film that completely rewrites a classic tale such as The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, but I have no complaints at all about this masterpiece. The movie does take so many liberties with the original that Washington Irving might have a hard time recognizing it, though. Ichabod Crane is not a mild-mannered schoolteacher but is instead an enterprising New York City constable whose determination to use scientific method in his work earns him the unpalatable assignment of investigating a series of beheadings in the hamlet of Sleep Hollow. He regards the tale told by the town elders about a headless horseman as nonsense-until he sees the horseman at work with his own two eyes. His timid nature rather obviously revealed, he nevertheless steadfastly continues his investigation of the matter, concentrating on a conspiracy linking the different murders. The increasingly supernatural aspects of the story do nothing to take away from a spectacular ending.
Sleepy Hollow boasts a spectacular cast and a stellar crew of filmmakers. Tim Burton, with a little help from Francis Ford Coppola, has created a work of art. The settings are incredible and truly evocative of a farming community of the late 18th century. The dark and moody atmosphere of Sleepy Hollow makes the very town an important character in and of itself. When we view the scenes of Crane's childhood memories, full of vibrant color seemingly leaping off the screen, the contrast between the two atmospheres is incredible. No actor is more at home in a Gothic setting than Johnny Depp, and he truly shines in Sleepy Hollow, giving Crane a depth of character that is crucial to the film's success. He has to conquer his own fears, subdue the memories of his childhood, and deal with the conflicting emotions he has toward Katrina van Tassel in order to bring the beheadings to an end. Christina Ricci is utterly charming and enchantingly beautiful as Katrina; I could watch this movie endlessly just to see her performance. Jeffrey Jones, Richard Griffiths, Ian McDiarmid, Michael Gambon, and Michael Gough bring great talent to the film as the town leaders, and Martin Landau contributes another distinguished head to the proceedings. Then there is Christopher Walken, who was the perfect choice to play the role of the Hessian soldier/Headless Horseman-he has no lines, but his presence broods over the whole film.
There are some tender and comical moments in the film, but one is frequently reminded of the horror aspect by the continuing series of beheadings. I lost count of just how many there were. I must say that these are some of the best, most impressive beheadings I have been witness to. Burton even adds special touches such as one scene in which the head spins around quickly before leaving the shoulders of its suddenly former body. The representation of the headless horseman is also quite exceptional and disturbingly realistic. There is not an excessive amount of blood in the film, but those who find the sight of headless bodies disquieting will have much to squirm and squeal about.
The plot holds together very well, each subtle clue or incident ultimately falling into place; there is no extraneous material added to pad the film or slow it down in any way. The music complements every bit of the action very well, and the beautifully realistic mood that only Tim Burton could have created is guaranteed to draw you completely into the story. I really cannot praise this movie enough; it is horror crafted into an art form by the deft hands of Tim Burton.