Welcome to Cult Corner where we dive through the bargain bins to determine if a movie is trash or treasure. Today’s pick… Chris Arth and Kevin Summerfield’s Sleepy Hollow High.
It’s a slasher movie! Plot synopsis over.
Not good enough? Alright, let’s go into more detail. Sleepy Hollow High centers around a group of delinquent students forced, for various reasons, to partake in community service or be expelled from school. While they’re an unrelated bunch from various social groups that must learn to get along, this movie’s definitely a few shades away from The Breakfast Club. These characters are scumbags. Every one of them, the teacher included. At first I thought they were just generally unlikeable as two of them pull a revenge prank on someone for outing one of the characters for running a parking lot drug ring but they continually get worse and worse. There’s a conversation early on where the girlfriend of one of the characters mentions having seen her boyfriend shoot someone, and the response she gets is “that’s no big deal, I stabbed some stranger when I was tripping on shrooms once.” Nice.
The decision to feature a completely detestable cast is baffling. There is just no way to recover from boasting a cast of characters that is comprised entirely of vile pieces of human garbage. Why should I care about a single thing that happens from this moment on? Why would I invest in any of these people as this pumpkin-faced killer starts picking them off one by one? Pick away, I saw. I shouldn’t care and I don’t. Hell, on top of all this each character is poorly-written and devoid of personality, unless you count arguing as a character trait. The closest one to having anything going on is the teacher with the mysterious past, but it’s hard to take that serious with a name like “Mr E.” Do you get it? Mr E? Mystery? Clever, right?
The only thing I may have gotten any joy out of with this thing was the death scenes, but even those are disappointing. The killer is just what you’d expect from a movie called Sleepy Hollow High. He’s a headless horseman style character in a pumpkin mask wielding a sword that looks like something from a Lord of the Rings cosplay convention. The kills generally involve a brief chase with or without a horse, shaky cam, bad lighting, sword swinging, and a head or limb flying through the air. They’re a jumbled mess of editing and are oftentimes difficult to look at.
“Difficult to look at” is actually a pretty good description for this whole movie, though. On a technical level, it is awful. The audio and video quality is piss poor. Sleepy Hollow High came out in 2000, but easily looks like it’s thirty years old. It’s poorly shot, poorly lit, not color-corrected, not leveled, and feels like an inconsistent student film. There are parts where the audio dips to really quiet followed by sentences that blast your ear drums almost to the point of clipping. The sound effects and establishing shots that are recycled throughout the film are really noticeable. There’s even a horse whinny that’s played three times back to back, making it sound like a record skipping.
There is no reason to watch this movie, and I strongly encourage you to pass it by if you see it at the store. The characters suck, the kills suck, the camerawork sucks, the audio quality sucks, the script sucks, and I want my 90 minutes back. On top of all this we’re treated to the cheapest, laziest, most cliche twist ending of all time. You won’t see it coming because it actually doesn’t make any kind of sense, but it’s definitely one you’ve seen before. End rant.
Here at Cult Corner we cover the weird and obscure. Given the low budget that these movies often have we feel the need to recognize that entertainment value and quality aren’t always synonymous. That’s why we have opted for the “trash or treasure” approach in lieu of a typical rating system. After all, Troll 2 is incredibly entertaining but it’s no 8 out of 10.