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To sequel or not to sequel, that is the question: Sleepy Hollow

Oct. 4, 2012by: Alejandro Stepenberg

To Sequel or Not to Sequel: Sleep Hollow title

Here's the deal: I like movies, you like movies, and sometimes we both like movies so much that we want to see the story extend beyond the final scene. And despite our mutual bemoaning of Hollywood's sequel-happy state of late, sometimes I wish someone would make a sequel to a movie I liked. Not just a direct-to-DVD piece of shite, but a fully fledged, high production value piece of entertainment.

So in honor of Mr. Tim Burton's very possible return to form with this week's release of FRANKENWEENIE, and considering that we're all watching scary movies in the spirit (heh) of this month, the movie that's been on my mind lately is SLEEPY HOLLOW.  Released back in 1999, the third collaboration between Burton and Johnny Depp grossed $200 million worldwide and holds a 67% "Certified Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes.  When I watched it at fifteen it was the first "scary" movie I had ever seen, I gleefully enjoyed every minute of it, and every time I've seen it since I've often found my mind wandering into sequel territory.  Which brings me to my question: is there a place a follow-up could go, and should that path be tread?

To Sequel or Not to Sequel: Sleep Hollow 1

It is of course very true that not all sequels are made equal, and there are certain criteria that make some more successful than others insofar as "good filmmaking" goes.

1) Is there an organic place for a sequel to go? Yes, I think so.  Without going into too much detail, Ichabod has had his "origin story" and become a man who knows about the important of science/invention while still respecting the supernatural.  There are plenty of ways, with The Horseman or with a different fokltale from New England, for the world of SLEEPY HOLLOW to not only be continued but expanded upon.

2) Is there somewhere for the characters to go? Here I also vote yes.  Ichabod's new family has to adjust to the "modern world," Ichabod has intriguing collection of skills and knowledge that can be honed, and the family's love and past traumas can be tested with the arrival of a new case.  Not to mention the fact that Christopher Walken's Horseman, while not exactly a deep character, still had some great design and character elements.  For one thing, I'd love to see him bite someone else's mouth off.

3) Is there somewhere for the story to go that isn't just a rehash? This gets tricky, but I'd direct you to #1 and add that so long as #2 is kept at the forefront of the filmmaker's intention, all would be well.  SLEEP HOLLOW also had a nice mix of humor, action, and scares - keep the balance as equally tight in a follow-up, and the movie would be golden.  There's also the point that the first movie was more "fun" scary than "freaky" scary, so there's possibility in a sequel siding between more "fun frights" or being "truly frightening."

4) Is it necessary? No, but the world explored in SLEEPY HOLLOW is one of the more interesting cohesions of theme and stylistic aesthetic in recent memory.  I'd love to see how the characters and world might grow and deepen in response to the passage of time and the possible exploration of a new case/piece of folklore come to life.  Selfishly speaking, I may also just want another dark procedural script from Andrew Kevin Walker (SE7EN, THE WOLFMAN).

5) Is it possible to guarantee more Miranda Richardson? No, but it sure as hell would be nice to have her! Not only for her acting, but for her corset-wearing prowess as well.  Because damn.

Walken and Richardson

So that's what I think, though those thoughts of course only raise more questions.  Should Tim Burton direct? I don't know about that, but then again, would it be SLEEPY HOLLOW without Tim Burton? Might it be better if he just produced? What specific directions could a sequel take, story-wise?

For now though, leave your responses below and we'll tally the results for the next column.

SO DO YOU THINK THEY SHOULD MAKE A SEQUEL OR NOT?

Extra Tidbit: Since SLEEPY HOLLOW was my first scary movie more or less ever, watching it alone late at night in the dark of my living room when I was fifteen was just about the most terrifying experience of my life. Thankfully I enjoyed myself enough that I immediately sought out more legitimately scary fare, but I still find SLEEPY HOLLOW to be a whole lot of fun.
Source: JoBlo.com

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9:50PM on 10/04/2012
I really like this movie, and see where you are coming from in regards to a sequel, but hell no! Crane as a character has nothing left to learn, no way to grow now.

Awesome column though.
I really like this movie, and see where you are coming from in regards to a sequel, but hell no! Crane as a character has nothing left to learn, no way to grow now.

Awesome column though.
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8:25PM on 10/04/2012
No.
No.
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7:08PM on 10/04/2012
That's funny that you found Sleepy Hollow scary because I always thought it was supposed to be a horror comedy. A Sleepy Hollow sequel can't be any worse that Dark Shadows was.
That's funny that you found Sleepy Hollow scary because I always thought it was supposed to be a horror comedy. A Sleepy Hollow sequel can't be any worse that Dark Shadows was.
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11:01AM on 10/04/2012

I would see it...

Only if we get Burton back on track and make it as gory and creepy as the first. It would need to have a different haunting/monster and mystery for Ichabod to solve. It would maybe be best to keep it smaller and more centralized on Ichabod sanity, dealing with the fact that he is famous now for stopping the headless horseman.
Only if we get Burton back on track and make it as gory and creepy as the first. It would need to have a different haunting/monster and mystery for Ichabod to solve. It would maybe be best to keep it smaller and more centralized on Ichabod sanity, dealing with the fact that he is famous now for stopping the headless horseman.
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10:37AM on 10/04/2012
I saw this movie ages ago...I remember enjoying it...but for the life of me...the only scene I can remember is when Depp wakes up after fainting (having seen the Headless Horseman)...only to faint again. Very funny scene.
I saw this movie ages ago...I remember enjoying it...but for the life of me...the only scene I can remember is when Depp wakes up after fainting (having seen the Headless Horseman)...only to faint again. Very funny scene.
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10:16AM on 10/04/2012

The approach of this column is the problem... with many sequels

The best sequels seem to be the ones that are plotted out as an extended arc spanning multiple films from the get go, or instances where the original filmmaker or another filmmaker is legitimately inspired by an idea. I feel like this column, however well-intentioned, represents the process behind how many sequels wind up being planned. Approaching an existing property and saying "Hey, could we think of something, is this fertile, can we tell a story, is it necessary?" To be fair, I think the
The best sequels seem to be the ones that are plotted out as an extended arc spanning multiple films from the get go, or instances where the original filmmaker or another filmmaker is legitimately inspired by an idea. I feel like this column, however well-intentioned, represents the process behind how many sequels wind up being planned. Approaching an existing property and saying "Hey, could we think of something, is this fertile, can we tell a story, is it necessary?" To be fair, I think the column is respectful to the original film, and wants a really strong answer to those questions - stronger than a studio might need before green-lighting a reboot or sequel. But the approach is the same. Whether it's a sequel, reboot, adaptation or original film - the idea should be the original starting point. It doesn't guarantee success, but I feel like the best projects stem from the idea first, rather than a focus group on how to make a project happen. Just my 2 cents.
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9:25AM on 10/04/2012
As a potential column, I like this idea. But even if Burton and Depp and Ricci did want to come back for more, I'm not sure it's warranted. Arguably Burton at the height of his stylistic career. The issue with sequels, first off, is the need to justify themselves in relation to the origin. Then transcending that. But the gothic horror/fairy tale world is no longer the novelty it was when Tim Burton was first coming along. And Christopher Walken isn't getting any younger. I'll believe in this
As a potential column, I like this idea. But even if Burton and Depp and Ricci did want to come back for more, I'm not sure it's warranted. Arguably Burton at the height of his stylistic career. The issue with sequels, first off, is the need to justify themselves in relation to the origin. Then transcending that. But the gothic horror/fairy tale world is no longer the novelty it was when Tim Burton was first coming along. And Christopher Walken isn't getting any younger. I'll believe in this project when it's announced, and in the meantime, I'll just enjoy the original for what it is.
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8:03AM on 10/04/2012
If it means more of Christopher Walken screaming at random with razor sharp teeth then most definitely.
If it means more of Christopher Walken screaming at random with razor sharp teeth then most definitely.
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7:33AM on 10/04/2012

No no no no no no NO!

This film has a very special place in my heart, and we re-watch it EVERY October...it's tradition. The film stands alone and needs NO sequel. LEAVE IT BE!
This film has a very special place in my heart, and we re-watch it EVERY October...it's tradition. The film stands alone and needs NO sequel. LEAVE IT BE!
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5:15AM on 10/04/2012
I would suggest that Ichabod cross the path of yet another supernatural being from folklore like Bloody Mary but like the first movie have it twisted into a murder mystery. Perhaps Bloody Mary is being "used" in a similar way to the Huntsman to kill people or Bloody Mary is one of the characters hiding their true nature in the form of a human.
I would suggest that Ichabod cross the path of yet another supernatural being from folklore like Bloody Mary but like the first movie have it twisted into a murder mystery. Perhaps Bloody Mary is being "used" in a similar way to the Huntsman to kill people or Bloody Mary is one of the characters hiding their true nature in the form of a human.
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5:15AM on 10/04/2012
Sleepy Hollow was your first scary movie? Damn, the writers here are getting too young.
As for the article... No, I don't think this needs a sequel. It's neither a phenomenal movie that I'm dying to see a sequel to, or a story that still is in need of a conclusion. It's finished, done.
Sleepy Hollow was your first scary movie? Damn, the writers here are getting too young.
As for the article... No, I don't think this needs a sequel. It's neither a phenomenal movie that I'm dying to see a sequel to, or a story that still is in need of a conclusion. It's finished, done.
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8:48AM on 10/04/2012
It was more due to the fact that my parents didn't watch horror movies, and I was too scared to even read a Goosebumps book. But I read Dracula when I was 11, and that immediately inspired a curiosity in me about the genre when I saw what it could be and the storytelling power it held. So it's not that I'm young, so much as I just wasn't able to handle it until a certain point in my life. And for all the movies my parents showed me (of which there are many) and that I watched with friends,
It was more due to the fact that my parents didn't watch horror movies, and I was too scared to even read a Goosebumps book. But I read Dracula when I was 11, and that immediately inspired a curiosity in me about the genre when I saw what it could be and the storytelling power it held. So it's not that I'm young, so much as I just wasn't able to handle it until a certain point in my life. And for all the movies my parents showed me (of which there are many) and that I watched with friends, the closest I ever got to a scary movie until I was fifteen was Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.
8:57AM on 10/04/2012
I was also on a Burton kick at the time, and at the time it was one of the few movies of his that I hadn't seen precisely because I didn't think I could handle it. But of course I did, and loved it, and have since graduated on to the likes of DAWN OF THE DEAD (both versions), THE ORPHANAGE, HALLOWEEN (the original), 28 DAYS LATER, CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, etc...
I was also on a Burton kick at the time, and at the time it was one of the few movies of his that I hadn't seen precisely because I didn't think I could handle it. But of course I did, and loved it, and have since graduated on to the likes of DAWN OF THE DEAD (both versions), THE ORPHANAGE, HALLOWEEN (the original), 28 DAYS LATER, CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, etc...
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