The Horror Honeys: The Horseman Comes, and Tonight He Comes for You...

The Horseman Comes, and Tonight He Comes for You...

A Hexmas Traditions Review by Revenge Honey Linnie

Sleepy Hollow (1999)

I'm not sure there is anything more heartbreaking than realizing you haven't truly loved a film created by your favorite director in fifteen years. Like most oddballs my age, my love affair with Tim Burton began with PeeWee's Big Adventure, a film I saw at three-years-old and which lead to me saying, "I'm a loner, Dottie. A rebel," daily to a very confused pre-school teacher. From there, it was Beetlejuice, the first two Batman films, and forcing my dad to rent me Edward Scissorhands over and over again even though I wept uncontrollably every time. I saw Ed Wood before I knew who the real Ed Wood was, but thanks to Burton, I became a certified Plan 9 fangirl. Our (admittedly one-sided) relationship was as rosy as a relationship could be. But then... 2001 happened. 

Planet of the Apes happened.

I had no idea what I was watching, but I knew it didn't feel like a Burton film. It felt soulless, depressing, and reeked of budget over heart. With the exception of Burton's return to animation with 2012's Frankenweenie, each film since has felt like the apex of a downward spiral into mediocrity... until the next film is released, revealing a new low in ambivalent filmmaking. When Dark Shadows came out in 2012, it felt as if a team of studio executives had run the original series through the Burtonator, and shrugged their shoulders with a, "Meh. This will do." Why am I bringing all of this up, you're probably asking?

Besides being on the verge of an, "Off with his head!" moment...

Because Hexmas is the time of year when I watch Sleepy Hollow, to remember the last time Tim Burton was at his absolute, Burton-y best.

Burton's vision of Washington Irving's classic ghost story is the culmination of everything perfect about the Tim Burton style. As Sleepy Hollow cast and crew walked the constructed film sets, they remarked that it felt like walking the interior of Burton's brain... I think this is why Sleepy Hollow is such a beautiful and exceptionally different film. It's like a Disney film, run through the Hammer lens, with a dose of giallo for good measure. All that was missing was a musical number and it could have been my perfect movie.


Sleepy Hollow was also the last time that Johnny Depp and Tim Burton worked together without acting like a pair of back-patting enablers. Depp played a unique character without a wacky accent or a ridiculous hair style: his version of Ichabod Crane was charmingly awkward and cowardly. Depp and Christina Ricci were perfectly matched as skeptic and scientist foils and love interests, and the supporting cast is full of horror icons from Christopher Walken to Michael Gambon. This was truly a film that was exquisitely cast and didn't just feel like Burton was paying off favors.

I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that Sleepy Hollow was Tim Burton's las true masterpiece. The set design is perfection, he was invested in his actor's performances, and it was the perfect combination of fairy tale and horror. Some may have high hopes for Burton's upcoming film, Big Eyes, but I'm not one of those people. So until the day comes that Burton finds his way again, I will return to Sleepy Hollow for a reminder of the Burton That Was... and not the Burton That Is.

Revenge Honey Rating: 5 Hessian Hunks out of 5