Sleepy Hollow

Sleepy Hollow ★★★★½

31 Days of Horror 2021: #22/31

Tim Burton’s very fun, very stunning, very bloody Gothic celebration. The dark stormy nights of Hammer, the heightened pulp of Corman, the gory rollicking adventure of Gordon, deftly weaved into an action-horror rollercoaster cloaked in autumn fog and shaded by gnarled trees. As a science-minded New York detective tasked with solving a string of murders in the titular village, Johnny Depp’s Ichabod Crane is practically his audition reel for Jack Sparrow. The mannerisms, the guarded quirky front, the adventure film antics of the finale, it’s all there but - much like Burton’s own direction here - hasn’t become caricature or parody yet.

As serviceable as Depp or the murder mystery are, as awesome as the rest of the character actor cast is, the real stars of Sleepy Hollow are the evocative atmosphere and supernatural spectacle. The Horseman riding and striding with the savage slasher relentlessness of an occult Terminator. British hamlet secrets rooted in family bloodlines and hushed grudges. Headless swordfights choreographed with furious blows and blade flourishes. 18th century forensics and graveyard exhumations escalating to witchcraft, a shark-toothed Christopher Walken, and a corpse-oozing Tree of the Dead. And just so many decapitations, heads aplenty rolling and twirling and flying with such cinematic grace.

Danny Elfman’s score is as richly bombastic as the visuals, the action, and the gore. Sleepy Hollow is a complete package maximized for grim whimsy and devilish entertainment. This one is absolutely going to be a seasonal rewatch.

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