Sleepy Hollow is a period horror film released in 1999 and marks the third collaboration between Tim Burton and Johnny Depp. After making Edward Scissorhands and Ed Wood, the teaming of Burton and Depp has become one that works wonders. Loosely based on Washington Irwing's story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, the film takes the story of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman one step further.
The first thing about Sleepy Hollow is it's elaborate, haunting and eerie set design. Tim Burton is best known for giving an eerie turn on everything he makes (Recall : Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Yet another Depp/Burton film). Sleepy Hollow already had elements of horror in it, Burton's task was to make it worth remembering. The use of fairytale music is prevalent in this film. Indeed a lot of its background score comprises the music from a music box or a doll house. The setting is silent, yet it screams. The town of Sleepy Hollow is always covered in fog. The woods are silent apart from the occasional brush of leaves underfoot. However, the excessive use of blood, like in his later Sweeney Todd is required to make the film what it is for the crisis comes from someone who does not have a head and who excels in chopping off others'. The horrific image of the witch, the sight of dead eyes through the floorboard, a sarcophagus spilling out its contents; these are what make Sleepy Hollow a work of art. The tree of the dead, with blood dripping from its roots uncovering what is hidden within its trunk will make one squirm in the seat. The cinematography is worthy of praise.
Acting in the film is top notch. Everyone convincingly plays scared, and even tries to be a hero. None more so than Johnny Depp. One can understand his situation when he hides behind his blanket in bed and says,'It was a horseman, a dead one. Headless!' The flashbacks of Ichabod Crane are done marvelously. The echoes and imagery in those particular sequences are outstanding. Sleepy Hollow is probably the finest piece of cinema Tim Burton has made to date.
9/10. Watch it alone, at night. The Horseman cometh.