Friday Flicks: 'Sleepy Hollow (1999)'

Just in time for Halloween, HN movie critic Amanda Ronan presents this review of Sleepy Hollow, starring Johnny Depp, a headless horseman and his super creepy ride.

From Amanda:

While technically not a “horse” movie, I decided to review this next film because for one it’s almost Halloween!  Two, it stars Johnny Depp and who doesn’t want to see more Johnny Depp?  Three, the main antagonist is a horseman…no matter how diabolical…or headless.  MUAHAHAHA.  Let us proceed.

Sleepy Hollow (1999) opens with beheadings, a careening horse carriage, and a terrifying pumpkin-headed scarecrow.

We are in New York.  The year is 1799.  Constable Ichabod Crane (Depp) is arguing against the use of torture devices to obtain guilty pleas.  In an effort to prove that science and logic can solve any crime, he is assigned to the town of Sleepy Hollow to investigate the aforementioned beheadings.

Crane arrives in Sleepy Hollow and finds that not only were the victims beheaded, but also the heads were never found.  As the infamous Scooby Doo would say, “Wuh Woh.”

The powder-wigged locals then regale Crane with the story of the Hessian Horseman.  The Horseman was a mercenary soldier, known for his love of battle and carnage.  Let’s just leave it at this…this dude was cray cray.  He had a wicked horse too.  It looms around his grave, pawing the frozen ground with its bloody legs.

This ghost story doesn’t impress Crane.  He is a man of science.  Men of science don’t believe in ghosts.  He assures the locals he will find the very human criminal committing the heinous murders.  Crane acquires a fine steed, named Gunpowder, and a young assistant to aid him in his investigation.

Shortly after, Crane witnesses the Horseman take another victim.  The event brings the death toll to six and waves good-bye to Crane’s scientific theories!

Crane, his loyal assistant, and the lovely Katrina Van Tassel head out to the Western Woods to locate the grave of the Horseman.

What they find is a really creepy tree.

What’s inside the tree, you’ll just have to find out for yourself.  But let me just say…eeeeewww.  Crane does find the Horseman’s grave and at least one part of the mystery is solved.  Someone has taken the Horseman’s skull, and now the ghost is wreaking havoc and stealing heads until his own is restored.

So who is controlling the beast?  Is it the Doctor Lancaster, Reverend Steenwyck, Notary Hardenbrook, or perhaps the powerful Baltus Van Tassel?  And what is Katrina up to?  Was that a crow’s foot in that “drink” and why is she always creeping around!?!  You’ll just have to watch and see!

I rarely watch horror movies, but this isn’t like the foul SAW series or the rather annoying Paranormal Activity.  It is a great old-fashioned Hitchcock style murder mystery and I liked it!  Be warned though, I haven’t seen this much blood since I sat through Braveheart.  Queasy stomachs, beware!  Its rated R, so young’uns shouldn’t watch either.

But let’s move on to more beautiful things, namely Johnny Depp.  He is one of the few men in the world that can pull off weird and hot all at the same time.  Not to mention he is a horse lover!  Depp actually adopted “Gunpowder” after filming ended.  Cast mates Christina Ricci and Christopher Walken also do not disappoint.  The costumes, sets, CGI special effects and soundtrack are all fantastic as well.  Tim Burton really pulled off a new telling of this very old tale.

I give Sleepy Hollow 3 ½ out of 4 Halloween Horseshoes.


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