Further proof that the Depp/Burton formula CAN work beyond Edward Scissorhands and Ed Wood, Sleepy Hollow sees the tale of the Headless Horseman being told through a Hammer horror-style flick complete with a creepy forest, dodgy townspeople, witches, curses and a cowardly prim-and-proper lead.
Depp is Ichabod Crane, a character usually depicted as butt-ugly but this time... not so, the science-minded investigator from New York who finds himself looking for logic in the small town of Sleepy Hollow when strange head-choppin' murders start mysteriously taking place. Soon enough, a skeptical Crane finally gives in to the idea of a headless horseman and adapts to the supernatural in order to find who really is behind all this. As straight-forward as it sounds, this is one surprisingly complex plot so you'll have to pay attention if you're going to even get the 'Scooby Doo' reveal at the end.
This is Tim Burton still at his most creative and although I've said many times that it was all downhill after Mars Attacks!, I was wrong: Sleepy Hollow really is the last great Burton film. Which is not to say that his films after that were all devoid of any merit but somehow, since Planet Of The Apes, nothing surpassed or even matched this gothic thriller/farce. This is back when Burton would build everything for real and CGI would just be used for certain specific, difficult shots rather than entire sequences computerized for the hell of it. A whole village was built to be the set for the film, and this gives Sleepy Hollow a fantastic setting to build on. The film looks terrific and Danny Elfman once again does brilliantly, adding an extra ominous layer to the film with a spot-on score.
The cast is awesome with the likes of veterans Michael Gough, Christopher Lee, Martin Landau, Michael Gambon, Ian McDiarmid and Richard Griffiths getting to act all sinister and/or mysteriously evasive, Christopher Walken growling like a dog, Christina Ricci as the witchy love interest and Miranda Richardson happily putting the 'ham' in Hammer. Casper Van Dien pops up also and Jeffrey Jones' wig is hilarious. It's an impressive cast and they all make Sleepy Hollow into one weird-ass little town to say the least.
The film still boasts the right amount of lols, thrilling action and dark edge the early Burton films carried and with such a good story and such a strong script, it all holds together perfectly making Sleepy Hollow a thoroughly entertaining, very funny, moody, knowingly trashy cult oddity that's well worth revisiting. Depp is particularly good also, providing arguably his most convincing Burton performance to date.