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Antebellum: An American Horror Story

In Antebellum, Janelle Monáe Faces Civil War Horror

In Antebellum, Janelle Monáe Faces Civil War Horror

(02/17/2020)

One of the most exciting new horror movies coming to theaters this year is also the one we know the least about. ANTEBELLUM is an intriguing movie from the producer of GET OUT, with singer and actor Janelle Monáe starring as an author trapped in a terrifying reality. Like Jordan Peele’s Oscar-winning hit, ANTEBELLUM also appears to be a social thriller — meaning it uses horror to explore real issues like class and race. Read on for a quick guide to everything you need to know about ANTEBELLUM before it hits theaters this April.

Watch the Terrifying Antebellum Trailer

[Image credit: Lionsgate]


The first ANTEBELLUM trailer was released in November 2019, and it does a great job of building interest for the film without revealing very much. We see a southern plantation that looks much like it would have during the Civil War era. There are Confederate soldiers in a field, and a black woman in an era-appropriate dress, running in terror.

And yet we hear something that wouldn’t have existed in this time and place: The recording of a 911 call. While women — including one played by star Janelle Monáe — work as slaves in a cotton field under the guard of Confederate soldiers, a modern aircraft flies overhead. The trailer cuts to shots of Monáe in contemporary times, having dinner and drinks with friends before entering a hotel, where she encounters a little girl in 19th-century clothing, who appears like a ghost.

A Sinister Story

the Antebellum Story

The ANTEBELLUM trailer offers a foreboding message: “If it chooses you, nothing can save you.” And the rest of the trailer is filled with contrasting scenes of the plantation and Monáe’s life in the modern world, including a shot of what appears to be Monáe’s kidnapping. What is the "it" in question?

The official ANTEBELLUM synopsis tells us only slightly more than the trailer: "Successful author Veronica Henley finds herself trapped in a nightmarish reality and must find a way to break free of the horrors at hand."

Based on that description, along with the teaser, we can begin to put together what the movie is about. It certainly seems like Monáe’s Veronica is kidnapped and taken to a plantation where the captors are engaged in a particularly disturbing Civil War reenactment. There, Veronica — along with several other people — is forced to live and work as a slave. Given the lack of details about the film and the elusive nature of the trailer, it’s safe to assume there are probably a few twists and turns in store. The producer of ANTEBELLUM is Sean McKittrick, who also produced the Jordan Peele social thrillers GET OUT and US — another indicator that this movie has some surprises up its sleeve.

Antebellum's Great Cast

the Antebellum Cast

The ANTEBELLUM cast is headlined by Janelle Monáe, the hit R&B musician who crossed over into movie stardom with roles in MOONLIGHT (which famously won the Oscar for Best Picture), HIDDEN FIGURES, and the recent drama HARRIET. If you watched the recent Oscar broadcast, you saw Monáe opening the ceremony with a stunning musical performance.

For ANTEBELLUM, Monáe is joined by a fantastic ensemble featuring Kiersey Clemons (from TV’s “The Flash”), Gabourey Sidibe (whose credits include “Empire” and PRECIOUS), and Marque Richardson (from the acclaimed Netflix series “Dear White People”). The supporting cast of ANTEBELLUM includes Jack Huston (“Boardwalk Empire,” THE IRISHMAN), Eric Lange (“The Man in the High Castle”), and Jena Malone (THE NEON DEMON, THE HUNGER GAMES franchise). We don’t know much at all about the roles they’re playing, but based on the trailer, we can at least tell that Sidibe is playing one of Monae’s friends, and Malone may be one of the film’s antagonists.

Meet the Filmmakers

the Antebellum directors

ANTEBELLUM is written and directed by filmmaking duo Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz. Their names might not sound familiar to you now, but if ANTEBELLUM is as big of a hit as GET OUT or US turned out to be — and it certainly looks as if that's possible — these guys are going to be huge.

This is the first movie directed by Bush and Renz, who have a background in music videos and socially-conscious short films. They’ve directed memorable music videos for artists like Jay-Z, Maxwell, and Khalid and Normani, as well as a short, AGAINST THE WALL, about police brutality starring Michael K. Williams, Michael B. Jordan, and Danny Glover. The short, which went viral, was made for actor Harry Belafonte’s social justice organization, Sankofa. As collaborators, Bush and Renz have proven wildly skilled at using striking imagery to create powerful narratives that speak to the social issues that have gripped our country for decades. It looks like they’re really kicking it up a notch with ANTEBELLUM, which is sure to be one of the most notable horror movies of 2020.



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All images courtesy of Lionsgate.

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