Whenever a well-known story such as "The Tale of the Sleepy Hollow" is reviewed, it falls victim to people's previous knowledge. In the case of Tim Burton's version of Sleepy Hollow, he must escape the Disney version that is played on millions of televisions across the land.
Tim Burton escapes preconceptions by doing what comes naturally to him: he creates a setting so lavish that trivial things such as dialogue and script are made ancillary in the film's grand scheme. The setting was one of pea soup thick fog and spindly bare trees. Homes of stone and thatch create an ambiance of the rural post, while romantic images of beautiful people create a fairy tale landscape. It all works to sweep one away into the story of a New York constable investigating a series of mystical murders plaguing a pastoral town to the north. Most of Ichabod Crane's character is reduced to clichéd bookishness and nervous ticks. However, Johnny Depp still manages to produce a character with depth, despite the witless dialogue, the tacked on love interest (Christina Ricci), and superficial theme of scientific reason versus myth. A cameo by Christopher Walken at his creepy best, rounds out all the performances worthy of mention.
The myth of the Headless Horseman was timely, brought to the screen by a renewed appreciation for the horror genre on the part of the audiences. The Horseman's origins are retold with highly demonic references to satisfy an audience thirsty for gore. Countless litres of viscous and colourful blood are spilled as every decapitation is recreated with deliberate, almost sport-highlight accuracy. It all leaves little to the imagination and destroys any suspense that may be created by the ripe subject matter and limited dialogue.
The negatives, however, belittles one of the intents of this film: escapism. As an audience member, you return to your youth, where ghosts are the perfect settings to allow the fantastic to happen. This film never intended to expand thought, but to entertain. Disregarding my better judgement, I found myself pleasantly happy, though sick in my stomach.