Sleepy Hollow (1999) Halloween Advent 2022

Rating 18
Length 1h29
Release 12.4.2017
Director Greg McLean (Writer James Gunn)
About An ordinary day at the office becomes a horrific quest for survival when 80 employees (John Gallagher Jr., Tony Goldwyn, Adria Arjona) at the Belko Corp. in Bogotá, Colombia, learn that they are pawns in a deadly game. Trapped inside their building, a voice over an intercom tells the frightened staffers that two workers must be killed within 30 minutes. When another ultimatum follows, friends become enemies and new alliances take shape, as only the strongest will remain alive at the end.
Moon: Full moon when the Tree of the Dead is first seen
Where to Watch: Netflix and Now TV
Trailer:

First Thoughts

This film is in my overall top 10. Surprising it would seem to others as apparently I don’t like Johnny Depp. It’s not that I dislike Depp, it’s that I do believe the use of Depp in Burton’s work should have been sparingly.
I remember watching this as a rental during one of my summers at Aunt Ursula’s (You’d understand if you saw her). One of those stormy sort of days in which it seemed to get dark unusually early.
I remember the poster took pride of place outside Walsall Arboretum in the Summer of 1999. I wasn’t allowed to go see it in the cinema given its age rating and being only 13. Oh, it looked awesome.
Then I remember buying it as an ex-rental VHS the summer after. It became the sort of film I would put on and do other things while it was on. While I enjoyed the film in itself, it was the music that perhaps had me watching it as often as I did.

I’ve not watched it for at least two years now. I try to not repeat watch films in an attempt to widen my experiences and in favour of looking to much older films… I say as this film became a legal adult this year.

Trick

  • I would go so far to say that there’s an overload of flashbacks for such a film. However, I’m going to say that the ones I really could do without are those of Ichabod himself.
    I get that they’re to develop the character and give us insight into his leanings towards science over faith, however it can be deduced from everything else. other than it being a way of presenting a secondary filmic tone, there is very little to gain.
  • There’s a little too much gloss on what should really have rough edges. Burton works best within the realms of pulp. I love this film, there’s no doubt about that, but it really is missing the B-movie tone that would make it perfect.

Treat

  • Not only is this film an almost love letter to the Hammer Horrors, Burton manages to get two Hammer veterans onto the screen. Christopher Lee and Michael Gough, however fleeting, add a certain atmosphere.
  • Miranda Richardson is glorious in her duel role. She is, without a doubt, the standout among the ensemble. Which when you consider that involves actors who’ve fought in a galaxy far, far away or battled at the school for witchcraft and wizardry that truly is saying something.
    This is a woman who has scared the crap out of me and made me laugh within a split second of each other for year in Blackadder, in which the tone is overly buoyant and light. Burton has given her the keys to the gory kingdom and she doesn’t half bring her A-game!
  • I cannot deny, this film is visually stunning. The filter used, while detracting from the overall gore, adds something so much more sinister in terms of tone.
  • Ray Park could have been on a par with Andy Serkis. You know, if he wasn’t a massive bag of dicks. Okay, he also couldn’t act for shit, whereas Serkis doesn’t hide behind the CGI.
    That said, it is Ray Park and not, alas, Christopher Walken, who brings the Headless Horseman to life. Maybe it’s just me and my knowledge going into the film, but the fight scene with Casper Van Dean’s Brom has all the signature moves of Darth Maul. Believe me, it pains me to give this guy credit over Walken, but that’s a testament to how well he performed.

Final Thoughts

The last of Burton’s greats. A wonderful retelling of Washington Irving’s classic tale with the DNA of a Hammer Horror. A great watch at any time, but the perfect one for the spooky season.
Long may it reign as part of my own personal top 10.

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