Monday, October 10, 2016

Horrors of October - Sleepy Hollow

Sleepy Hollow (1999)

NYC constable Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp) is sent off upstate to the titled town in order to solve a rash of murders via decapitation, which the townsfolk believe to be the work of The Headless Horseman. SLEEPY HOLLOW was a video favorite of mine in 2000 thanks to its dark take of the legendary folk tale and the quirky touches of director Tim Burton. Upon re-watching it today, I have found that I am no longer a fan of the Burtonesque stylings. The film's unnecessary deluge of jokes tend to all end with the same punchline: Depp pulls a small grimace, Depp gets blood sprayed on him, or Depp faints. In fact, the movie should have benn called "Fainting: The Movie", considering how many times it lazily utilizes a prat fall to end scenes. But the worst contribution Burton brings to the table are some brief awful usage of cartoonish CGI, as in eyes and other appendages bugging out like it was supervised by Tex Avery. This is highlighted in the worst scene of the film, where Crane visits a random witch in the spooky forest in order to get directions, sits through a lot of kooky behavior, before then walking off to the right plot point and never bringing up the weird lady again. Andrew Kevin Walker's script does address why this dumb moment is important, as it eventually plays into a wicked conspiracy of deception and further implementation of witchcraft. Unfortunately, this rampant duplicity is easy to figure out if you know the horror movie law of billing actors, plus the whole plot is dropped entirely in the third act solely for some popcorn theatrics, an unnecessary windmill explosion and an extended chase sequence. Though my current fatigue with Burton has hampered my viewing of this past love, I still was enraptured by the gorgeous production design and art direction. I especially took more notice of Emmanuel Lubezki's brilliant cinematography, who was able to make a beautifully dark and stormy movie but made sure that the audience can see everything, unlike may camera operators nowadays. Additionally, I still enjoyed the richness of the cast and re-partaking in the delicious sight of a bunch of people getting a nice trim off the top. As the film's tagline proudly and accurately stated, "heads will roll".


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