Rebecca Barry Hill: Slick and supernatural

1 comment
Turns out Len Wiseman's Sleepy Hollow is not so sleepy.
Turns out Len Wiseman's Sleepy Hollow is not so sleepy.

Well we've established that Sleepy Hollow (Tuesday, Prime, 8.30pm,), isn't sleepy. No doubt the rest of this odd yet intriguing mash-up of American folklore and police drama will be just as mad as the pilot.

Washington Irving's legend of the Headless Horseman has been transplanted to the present day. And not by way of some time-travelling machine. Nope, Ichabod Crane (he who cut off the horseman's head in 1776) blacks out during the Revolutionary War and wakes up one day in a cave, 250 years in the future. Worse still - his time-travelling companion is the horseman himself, a brute with a penchant for beheadings, (great faceless acting, that).

If that sounds camp beyond belief, you'd be partially right, judging by the way the headless one gets around the place like a bad Halloween outfit that quickly descends into a Scream-style horror show.

But add to that Underworld director Len Wiseman's cinematic treatment, and you've got an unusually slick beast. Whether or not you're drawn to the supernatural may determine whether you stick with this one, with its mysterious witches, unusual sightings in the forest, and creepy monster in the mirror.

Shows of this ilk - Buffy, etc -- hinge on great characters, and although Lieutenant Abbie (Nicole Beharie) is likeable and Ichabod (Tom Mison) is suitably befuddled, the fantasy elements tend to override them. Thankfully the humour's a little smarter than the likes of Brendan Fraser's Encino Man in terms of its fish-out-of-time-zone aspect.

As our new unlikely duo - Mills investigating the grisly murders, Ichabod, a clueless user of electric windows - driving through Sleepy Hollow, he points out the proliferation of Starbucks joints, including the one that used to be a livery stable.

When the cops point guns at the horseman, they yell, "Put your hands on your..." before realising its inanity.

Is it meant to be scary? If so, it only marginally succeeds. We knew there was a headless guy on the loose, so perhaps it would've been creepier just to see flashes of him as he rode around the village. That might've ramped up the tension in the somewhat violent climax too. Still, it deserves points for originality.

Prime has another historical series starting this week, only more traditional. The White Queen (Wednesday, 9.35pm) looks and feels much like you'd expect for a BBC series that cost $50 million to make, with its sumptuous costumes, idyllic English country setting and stately buildings.

Although it's set before The Tudors it almost matches that show for sexy time, much of which is as believable as Fifty Shades of Grey. Actually it's based on the novels by Philippa Gregory, and other than these breathless dalliances, it's a sophisticated affair.

The queen in the title is Elizabeth Woodville (Rebecca Ferguson), a widowed commoner aligned with the rival Lancastrian King Henry IV, and according to much of the court, an unsuitable royal bride. Although Ferguson plays Elizabeth with demureness and strength, and Max Irons (Jeremy Irons' son) does justice to the king, the story suffers from its confusing and sexist treatment of the women, who barely stand up to the men's revolting behaviour.

Elizabeth is practically raped but that doesn't stop her from falling for him. Perhaps it's simply paving the way for his dastardly ways to be revealed later -- when the other two women vying for the queen's crown come knocking.

It's a relief to know that despite the War of the Roses going on for three decades, this power struggle between the Lancaster and York families won't go on to Game of Thrones proportions; rather it's a 10-part miniseries.

It also has a Golden Globe-nominated performance from Janet McTeer, who plays Lady Rivers, the queen's superstitious, psychic mother.

She barely breaks a sweat, even under the harsh gaze of the king's mother, who is just one of many who disapproves of the coupling and will no doubt make Elizabeth's life a misery.

- TimeOut

- NZ Herald

Have your say

We aim to have healthy debate. But we won't publish comments that abuse others. View commenting guidelines.

1200 characters left

Sort by
  • Oldest

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf02 at 22 Dec 2014 19:28:29 Processing Time: 672ms