June 30, 2000
THE PHOTOGRAPHY is brilliant and... the brilliance stops there. The rest is gore that extends to the grotesque. The camera work, particularly in the scenes where the horseman charges down the woods and zeroes in on his victim, is out of the world. The director of photography is Emmanuel Lubezki.
The way the Headless Horseman gallops around, chopping off heads as if they were onions, and with absolute precision too, tends to become repulsive and even boring after a point.
Paramount Pictures and Mandalay Pictures' presentation, ``Sleepy Hollow'', is a story set in 1799. The spirit of the Headless Horseman murders people in the village of Sleepy Hollow. Yet he does not kill indiscriminately. His victims are chosen with care. And that creates a pattern which enables Constable Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp), to trace the living person who controls the spirit and orders the bloody bath. Eventually the instigator of the killings becomes a prey to the Headless horseman.
The ratiocinating constable Crane is very sceptical about the role of the supernatural in the murders, initially. He tries to see logic and reason in everything and so comes across as a person whom the audience can identify with. Johnny Depp lends a touch of plausibility to the character he plays. Actor Christopher Lee (of horror films fame) makes a brief appearance as the New York City burgomaster who sends Crane to Sleepy Hollow.
Hideous horror in the form of human heads buried under the Tree of Death, the faceless face of the woman who tells them about the tree and the ghastly end of Van Tessel inside the church add to the eerie atmosphere. The visual effects and special effects are fantastic.
Just when you think the movie could be nearing its end, it gets protracted for another 20 minutes. Action-filled moments no doubt, but ones that come rather late.
Sinisterity and ghoulishness are inseparable features of ``Sleepy Hollow'' directed by Tim Burton, and if you have a penchant for them you could go ahead and watch the film.