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10 Movies You Must Watch if You Love Sleepy Hollow

May 18, 2019
9 min read

Tim Burton is one of the most enigmatic directors in the world. His movies attain a level of transcendental magnetism where even death seems to be a beauty. Since his directorial debut, Burton has grasped the audience’s imagination with his absurd and weird work of art. Be it a gothic tale of a brutal psychotic murderer, or a valiant superhero, he has brought in a wave of a ludicrousness with a graphic genius.

‘Sleepy Hollow’ (1999), adapted from American author Washington Irving’s short story ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’, is another gothic horror amongst the gamut of Burton films. Starring American actor Johnny Depp as police constable Ichabod Crane, the film follows his attempt at investigating a series of murders in the titular village of Sleepy Hollow by a mysterious Headless Horseman. While it’s deeply flawed, particularly in the messy formulaic third act, ‘Sleepy Hollow’ still resonates with the classic Burton archetypes, which one can never get tired of. With the quintessential Gothic feel combined with an eccentric performance by Depp, ‘Sleepy Hollow’ is quite a fun watch.

If you are looking for films that are stylistically and thematically similar to this Burton flick, then you are at the right place. Here’s the list of best movies similar to ‘Sleepy Hollow’ that are our recommendations. You can watch several of these movies like ‘Sleepy Hollow’ on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime.

10. Crimson Peak (2015)

Set in Victorian-era England, ‘Crimson Peak’ is a gothic romance film about an aspiring author, Edith Cushing, who travels to a remote Gothic mansion in the English hills with her fiancé and his sister. There, the family faces instant supernatural tremors and now she has to decrypt the mystery behind the ghostly visions that haunt her new home. Directed by the master of monster Guillermo del Toro, ‘Crimson Peak’ finds inspiration from classic horror films such as ‘The Haunting’ (1963) and The Innocents’ (1961). Upon its release, the film was immensely appreciated by horror veterans Stephen King and Sam Raimi, who commented on its brilliant use of the gothic elements. Adding to del Toro’s imaginative vision are the visually haunting cinematography of Danish cinematographer Dan Laustsen and the resonating score of Spanish composer Fernando Velázquez. Though the film did not receive any accolade from top-billed award ceremonies, it is certainly a must watch for supernatural Gothic horror romance fans.

9. The Orphanage (2007)

‘The Orphanage’ received a standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival, which lasted for nearly 10 minutes. Directed by debutant J. A. Bayona, a Spanish filmmaker, the film follows Laura, essayed by Belén Rueda, a woman who brings her family back to her childhood home which used to be an orphanage for handicapped children. All seems to work out fine until things start turning problematic when her son Simón, essayed by Roger Príncep starts to communicate with an invisible new friend. Written by Spanish screenwriter Sergio G. Sánchez, the horror film does not adhere to the prototypes of jump scares like many of its contemporaries do. The film also infers the feel of the Spanish cinema of the 70s, thereby giving it a postmodern edge. A recipient on seven Goya Awards, the movie has also been listed as one of the best horror films of 2007, thus getting a mention on this list.

8. Climax (2018)

Directed by Argentine-French filmmaker Gaspar Noé, ‘Climax’ (2018) is a psychedelic musical horror film which follows a group of French dancers who after rehearsing their dance routine in a remote empty school building indulge in celebrations. However, their festivity turns into a pure hallucinatory and terrifying nightmare when one of the dancers laces the sangria with LSD. The film, like any Gasper Noé creation, is outlandish yet provocative. ‘Climax’ is a stylistic offspring of Dario Argento’s ‘Suspiria’ (1977) as it brims with booming garish colours. Written by Noé himself, ‘Climax’ is structured within the narrative of music and dance. The hallucinatory editing and the long takes give the film a psychedelic effect. Screened at the Directors’ Fortnight section at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, ‘Climax’ received immense appreciation and won the Art Cinema Award.

7. The Witch (2015)

A period supernatural horror film, ‘The Witch’, or ‘The VVitch: A New England Folktale’, follows a Separatist family which is torn apart by the evil supernatural forces of witchcraft, black magic, and possession. Set in New England in the 1630s, the film premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival garnering positive reviews. Directed by American filmmaker Robert Eggers, ‘The Witch’ belongs to the family of horror classics that includes ‘The Exorcist’ (1973) and ‘The Omen’ (1976). The film develops and further explores religious imagery to formulate the distinctive horror structure. Due to its ghoulish quality, ‘The Witch’ did receive a lot of criticism from many Christian religious groups. However, keeping aside its controversies, the film is a must watch for all supernatural horror fans.

6. The Others (2001)

Written, directed, and scored by Spanish-Chilean filmmaker Alejandro Amenábar, ‘The Others’ (2001) is a horror film that follows the story of Grace Stewart, essayed by Nicole Kidman, a woman with two photosensitive children who is convinced that her home is haunted after freak occurrences that shake up the darkened old family house. A recipient of eight prestigious Goya Awards, ‘The Others’ is led by the poignant performance by Kidman and the evocatively haunting atmospherics, credited to the astute cinematography by Javier Aguirresarobe.

The elements of horror have seen comparisons to the unnerving horror tales of ‘The Turn of the Screw’ (1898), written by one of the forefathers of horror literature Henry James. The perceptive screenplay also earned Amenábar a BAFTA Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay, a rare occurrence in the horror genre. Adding to its praises, ‘The Others’ received special appreciation for it atmospherics by film critic Roger Ebert, who wrote, “Alejandro Amenábar has the patience to create a languorous, dreamy atmosphere, and Nicole Kidman succeeds in convincing us that she is a normal person in a disturbing situation and not just a standard-issue horror movie hysteric.”

5. Let the Right One In (2008)

Adapted from Swedish author John Ajvide Lindqvist’s novel ‘Let the Right One In’, published in 2004, the story is set in the early 1980s and focuses on Oskar, a bullied and meek 12-year-old boy who befriends a vampire child in Blackeberg. Directed by Swedish filmmaker Tomas Alfredson, ‘Let the Right One In’ showcases inspired cinematography by Dutch-Swedish cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema, who brings forth a balance and quiet quality to the inherently macabre film. The deft articulation by the creative team earned the film many accolades and has since been regarded as one of the best horror film of the 21st century, with Empire film magazine including it in their list of “The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema” and American horror genre website Bloody Disgusting ranking it first in their list, “Top 20 Horror Films of the Decade”.

4. Dracula (1958)

Steered into classic horror by the fantastic performance by English actor Christopher Lee, ‘Dracula’ (1931) introduced the concept of the blood-sucking beasts on the big screen. Directed by British filmmaker Terence Fisher, ‘Dracula’, or ‘Horror of Dracula’, follows the story of the arch enemies Count Dracula and Doctor Van Helsing. Adapted from the classic gothic horror novel ‘Dracula’, written by Irish author Bram Stocker, the film led to the birth of the genre of vampire fantasy and horror which encompassed much of classic horror filmmaking in the 60s. The intrinsic and pictorial portrayal of the iconic vampire led to the film receiving immense praise and attaining legendary status, with many modern day horror filmmakers such as Burton himself naming it one of the best horror genre films of all time.

3. Suspiria (1977)

‘Suspiria’ is the first film of Italian director Dario Argento’s ‘The Three Mothers’ trilogy (1977, 1980 and 2007). It follows American actress Jessica Harper as Suzy Bannion, an American ballet student who is transferred to a prestigious dance academy in Germany. However, after a series of mysterious murders, Bannion comes to the realization that the academy is a front for a supernatural conspiracy. Finding inspiration from English essayist Thomas De Quincey’s essay ‘Suspiria de Profundis’ (1845), the film is stylistically crafted with vibrant colour and is scored with progressive-rock music composed by the Italian rock band Goblin. Credited for bringing a new visual aesthetic to the horror genre, ‘Suspiria’ is now regarded as a cult classic. The humongous positive reputation has also spawned a remake of the same name in 2018, which is directed by Italian filmmaker Luca Guadagnino.

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2. Nosferatu (1922)

A German expressionist horror film, ‘Nosferatu’ is the story of Vampire Count Orlok, who expresses his interest in a new residence and real estate agent Hutter’s wife. With the core premise adapted from the classic gothic horror novel Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’, published in 1897, ‘Nosferatu’ is one of the pioneering films in the horror and gothic genre. Directed by German filmmaker F. W. Murnau and written by Austrian screenwriter Henrik Galeen, the film does not completely borrow all narrative elements from the novel; instead, it chose to deviate to create an interesting and haunting piece of its own. Though the film received criticism due to the heavy censorship, it is often held in high regard by critics and cinephiles today. Film critic Roger Ebert noted the film in his book ‘The Great Movies’ (1997).

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1. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

One of the best films of 2006, ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ is a striking and exquisite fantasy drama film. Directed by Guillermo del Toro, the film is set in the Falangist Spain of 1944 where the academic young stepdaughter of a sadistic army officer chooses to escape into an eerie but captivating fantasy world. ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ is an archetypal del Toro film with imaginative locale, unique monsters and visually enthralling cinematography. The narrative of the film is deeply rooted in del Toro’s fascination with fables and magical tales. The film earned gigantic critical and commercial success and is often regarded as a modern classic.

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