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Netflick’s Pick: Headless Good Times in ‘Sleepy Hollow’ (1999)

Today's pick is a very entertaining adaptation of the classic short story.

Sleepy Hollow is a 1999 horror thriller about a man sent to investigate the decapitations of three people with the culprit being the legendary apparition, the Headless Horseman.

Today’s Netflix Pick is a stylish little horror fantasy that takes an iconic short story and turns it into a feature length film. Starring Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci, it was a pretty sizable hit in theaters and earned some substantial praise across the board from critics. A tense, action-heavy story with plenty to think about, it is one of the director’s most accomplished films. It’s Sleepy Hollow and it’s what you’re watching tonight. Here’s why.

THE STORY: Directed by Tim Burton, the story (based on the 1820 short story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving) sits firmly on the shoulder of New York City police constable Ichabod Crane (Depp). Set in 1799, Crane travels upstate to a small town named Sleepy Hollow where a bizarre series of nasty murders are leaving victims literally without their heads. A local legend says that the ghost of a Hessian mercenary from the American Revolutionary War, called The Headless Horseman (Christopher Walken), has come to town seeking his own lost head, and Crane, a man of science, is initially skeptical until he has an encounter all his own. Meanwhile, Crane develops feelings for the lovely Katrina (Ricci), daughter of the town’s most wealthiest family, who Crane comes to suspect is wrapped up in the mystery of it all.

Sleepy Hollow
Sleepy Hollow, 1999 © Paramount Pictures

WHY YOU NEED TO WATCH: Burton has always populated his films with imaginative production design and colorful characters and Sleepy Hollow is no exception. It’s a terrific looking film that is a wonder of practical and digital effects employing creative camera techniques and computer imagery. The Horseman’s lair, called the Tree of the Dead, is one of the coolest portals to another dimension ever seen in the movies. That all said, naturally, it’s Depp who makes Sleepy Hollow so fun to watch. At this stage in the game, under Burton’s wing, Depp was a master at creating and delivering truly exciting and innovate characters and his version of Crane is one of his best. Watch what he does with him, the small gestures and amusing quirks throughout that make for a lot of laughs. While it has a few scary moments, it’s hardly a horror film, much more a rousing mystery, and makes for a great night at the movies. It’s streaming on Netflix right now.