Time Out says1799: New York police inspector Ichabod Crane (Depp) is sent to investigate a murder case in the provinces, in the hope it will purge him of his newfangled scientific theories. But there's little mystery about the crimes at Sleepy Hollow. Everyone knows the guilty party is the legendary 'headless horseman', a Prussian hussar who used to terrorise the countryside. Much taken by the enigmatic Katrina Van Tassel (Ricci), Crane chooses to confront his fear and dig a little deeper, even as everyone who's anyone in the town begins to lose his head. Burton's free interpretation of Washington Irving's classic bogey tale has a lustrous, black velvet look that draws on fairy tale traditions, Disney, Gothic and Dutch Colonial styles - with a pinch of Hammer Horror thrown in. Depp affects a vaguely English accent and a prissy, slightly effeminate demeanour as Crane. It's a witty but fatally caricatured performance which precludes much in the way of emotional investment, and generates negligible chemistry with a pallid Ricci. This is more plot-driven than Burton's norm, and it moves at a fair lick, but even so, its attractions are all atmospheric, while narrative convolutions tend to come in undigested gobbets of explanation. For about an hour it's a fine, ghoulish carnival sideshow, and that has its charms, but there's a thin desperation about the climax.
Cast and crew
Martin Landau, Caspar Van Dien, Richard Griffiths, Johnny Depp, Michael Gough, Claire Skinner, Christopher Lee, Alun Armstrong, Michael Gambon, Jeffrey Jones, Christopher Walken, Christina Ricci, Ian McDiarmid, Miranda Richardson