Whenever I see “From the Producers of Get Out“, I immediately get excited. Jordan Peele’s team behind Get Out and Us did a phenomenal job with both of those films with their intersection of horror and race issues in America. So when those words came across my computer screen when I originally watched the trailer for Antebellum, I got incredibly excited. The trailer thoroughly intrigued me as it looked like it was going to be horror mixed with time manipulation between present day and the Antebellum South. However, the excitement I had going into this film was poorly placed as this is a poorly paced story that doesn’t go anywhere or accomplish anything.
Antebellum sees Veronica Henley (played by Janelle Monáe), a successful author in modern day America, find herself in a horrific situation that forces her to come to grips with the sins committed against her ancestors and how they still happen today. I cannot really say anything more about the basic plot without completely “ruining” the twist that the filmmakers claimed would be jaw-dropping (it wasn’t).
This film is the definition of a waste of time. There was a lot of really interesting ideas and imagery, but it was all just thrown to the wind and didn’t go anywhere. There was absolutely zero development in any ideas or themes that was presented to the audience. Horror films, however, do not need deep ideas and themes in order to be a fun, entertaining ride. That said, this “horror film” had very few horror moments. The very DNA of the marketing of the film and what the film was clearly aiming for was nowhere to be found. Overall, this entire film was a story that droned on with nothing to make it the least be entertaining, thought provoking, or scary.
The only part of this film that showed greatness was Janelle Monáe’s performance. Between her roles in Harriet (2019), Homecoming (2020), and now Antebellum, Monáe further proves that she is a powerhouse performer, and if she should continue to take acting roles, she has a strong chance at becoming the new powerhouse box office-draw in Hollywood. Even though the rest of this film is so disappointedly boring, Monáe’s performance is incredible and carries audiences to the film’s finish line.
It is so disappointing that none of the big horror films were able to make into theaters this year (other than those that are sensory violations in their horrifically poor quality), but then again, 2020 has been scary enough in and of itself. While Antebellum was seen as a higher profile horror film, after watching I thoroughly understand why the distributors of the film decided to not waste the money on delaying the film to ensure a theater release. Overall, Janelle Monáe’s performance steals the show because it is the only thing about it worth watching.
Antebellum is rated R for disturbing violent content, language, and sexual references.