Sleepy Hollow one of Tim Burton’s many acclaimed films is the story of a detective of sort; Crane (played by Johnny Depp) who has been sent to a place called Sleepy Hollow, where murders have been occurring. After talking with locals who claim it’s the work of a headless horseman, Crane remains skeptical until he sees the horseman and tries to uncover what is happening in the town. As a horror film, it definitely shows its colors with the standard horror movie qualities.
The first quality is the ominous music, which gives a sense of impending doom to every scene and especially during the battles when you can hear the violins playing violently. The music plays a key role in every scene of the movie and changes the mood very quickly. For instance, the scene when the magistrate is killed, the music starts off light as Crane jumps off his horse and then with a flash of lightning turns ominous and picks up pace quickly as the horseman beheads him.
Another feature I noticed which is very common in horror movies is the use of dark lighting and fog. While the background is commonly black and grey, the characters themselves are very light with accents of light colors on them adding some contrast of shades. It also allows for a more shocking reveal when characters are covered in the dark red blood of the dead, which is something Burton has done in many of his other films. One of Burtons more notable examples is Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street where Johnny Depp plays a barber who kills people for a woman who bakes them into pies. In Sweeny Todd, particularly the only shade of bright color we see during the entire movie is the flashes of dramatic red blood. Burton seems to favor this method in Sleepy Hollow as well.
We can also see fog playing an important role in the suspense of the movie, clouding what main characters and the audience can see and allowing for a grander reveal. The horseman himself also frequently comes accompanied with lightning which causes the camera to flicker adding to the feel of the movie. One of the most visually disturbing aspects of the movie was the focus on the heads. The camera often only focuses on the severed heads for several seconds as the horseman either rides off or holds them up showing off his prize. Overall Sleepy Hollow lived up to it’s horror movie roots in being disturbing, and while I’m sure movies like Silence of the Lambs rank higher in the disturbing category, it fit perfectly in Burton’s style of cinema.