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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
No real positive messages in this movie.
Positive Role Models
In this incarnation of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," Ichabod Crane is a police detective who advocates more humane treatment of criminals and applies scientific techniques to find clues in murder mysteries.
Violence & Scariness
Gore and blood. Frequent decapitations, with severed heads rolling in all directions. Corpses. A man killed with a spike through the chest. There is a tree that bleeds and is filled with decapitated heads. Heads on spikes and swords. An ax murder. A witch slices off the head of a bat.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Brief scene of people having sex in a forest; no nudity, not graphic. Reference to fornication.
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A few "damns" and "hells."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
One of the characters drinks alcohol from a flask.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Sleepy Hollow is a 1999 Tim Burton-directed horror movie in which Johnny Depp plays an Ichabod Crane reimagined as an 18th-century detective sent to investigate a series of mysterious decapitations taking place in a rural upstate New York village. This is a very, very gory movie, with many headless corpses, lots of spurting blood, heads being sliced off and bouncing to the ground, various other murders, a couple of "boo!"-type scares, and of course characters perpetually in peril. The heads all show up eventually, too. There is a brief but non-explicit scene of a couple having sex, several very gross moments, and a scene of torture in an iron maiden. A witch slices off the head of a bat. There are some references to the occult and of characters selling their souls to Satan. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
SLEEPY HOLLOW is less the Washington Irving story than it is Scream set in post-Revolution times. The themes of science vs. supernatural and appearance vs. reality appear throughout the movie as Crane must understand his own past to see the truth. He describes himself as "imprisoned by a chain of reasoning." He keeps coming back to a toy given to him by his mother, a spinning disk with a bird on one side and a cage on the other. As it spins, the bird appears to be inside the cage, an optical illusion, and, not by coincidence, the very illusion (persistence of vision) that makes viewers think that the people in the thousands of still pictures that make up a movie are really moving.
Depp plays Crane with the right haunted look and rigid posture. But the ludicrousness of some of the plot turns and the exaggerated fright reactions leave him with the most outrageous eye-rolling since Harvey Korman's imitation of a silent film star. Indeed, the movie frequently brings to mind those sublime Carol Burnett Show movie parodies, especially when the villain ultimately finds time for a detailed confession as the planned final victim is waiting for the Headless Horseman to arrive. The wonderful Christina Ricci is wasted in an ingenue part.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.