Cinema Revisited: Sleepy Hollow

Anastasia Landeros and Gustavo Buenrostro

The first film for October is the classic-Tim Burton film “Sleepy Hollow” starring Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci. The supernatural-horror film “Sleepy Hollow” is loosely based on the Washington Irving book “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” published in 1820. The story follows Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp), a constable sent to the small farming town of Sleepy Hollow to investigate the decapitation murders of its citizens.
Ichobod is sent to Sleepy Hollow by Burgomaster (Christopher Lee) to investigate the Sleepy Hollow murders.
Anastasia: Tim Burton loves to work with the same actors, so right away we see, obviously, Johnny Depp and also Christopher Lee, who has since been in Burton’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “Alice in Wonderland” and “Corpse Bride.”
Gustavo: I enjoy how the film starts out very creepy, making the audience think he is going away from his unique style. It’s very murder-mystery/horror.
Ichobod and magistrate Philipse (Richard Griffith) are walking on a forest path as Ichodob questions the magistrate about his involvement in a cover-up. The forest seems to come alive and the Hessian Horseman/Headless Horseman (Christopher Walken) sneaks up on the duo and cuts the head off of Magistrate Philipse.
Gustavo: This is where Tim Burton begins to show his style. When the magistrate gets his head cut off, the head does a whole 360 degree turn. It takes away from the serious tone it set up earlier and makes it feel campy. The tone shift was just a bit jarring.
Anastasia: It did feel a little campy, but that’s what’s expected from a Tim Burton film. I was actually waiting for a Tim Burton moment because, so far, it’s been a straight-up murder mystery, which isn’t something I’d expect from him as a storyteller.
Lady Van Tassel (Miranda Richardson) reveals to Katrina Van Tassel (Christina Ricci) that she controls the Headless Horseman and has been sending him to kill all the townspeople. Lady Van Tassel tells her step-daughter that she plans to kill her so that she can inherit her entire fortune and take revenge on the rest of the town.
Anastasia: The exposition in these scenes were too long. I didn’t care what her motive was by the end of the explanation. I just wanted it to be over. The reasoning behind why Lady Van Tassel wanted revenge on everyone wasn’t convincing enough to justify all the murders that were committed throughout the film, and the chemistry between Richardson and Ricci was unconvincing. Because of that, the story now felt thin and left me with some questions. Although the CGI was obviously ‘90s caliber for the most part, I did like the regeneration of the Headless Horseman’s head. That was well done.
Gustavo: Yeah, the CGI aged decently, although when they went inside the old tree, I thought that was bad CGI. I also had the same issue with her reasoning. It was not really justifiable for all the murders she told the horseman to do. I get she is a villain and doesn’t have to be redeemable, but it would have made the story more compelling if her reasoning for revenge was more relatable.
Final Popcorn Count
Gustavo: While there are some issues with the film, overall it was enjoyable. It definitely had a certain charm to it and, while the campiness did take me out of the film, the more serious scenes worked well enough to counter it. Rewatching the film makes it great for marathoning Halloween movies. 3 popcorn out of 5.
Anastasia: I also enjoyed the film overall. Most of the actors did a convincing job, and Tim Burton delivered on the Burton-isms. There were some issues at the end of the film in terms of story strength and weak chemistry, but the rest of the cast and story made it bearable. Three popcorn out of five. Overall popcorn count: 3 out of 5.

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