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

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.


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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