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‘Antebellum’ Movie Review: Disappointing!

Article by Oliver Nash
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Posted: November 29, 2020  

The Rundown

Antebellum is a 2020 American horror film written and directed by Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz in their feature directorial debuts. The film stars Janelle Monáe, Eric Lange, Jena Malone, Jack Huston, Kiersey Clemons, and Gabourey Sidibe, and follows a modern-day African-American woman who finds herself in a Southern slave plantation and must escape.

The Review

Multi-faceted star Janelle Monáe stars as Eden/Veronica – the protagonist of Antebellum. Her life as a thriving feminist and racial equality activist attracts modern day white supremacists at her door. They turn her “liberated” life upside down by kidnapping and enslaving her in a cotton plantation, ultimately making her disappear off the face of the earth.

In Antebellum, every scene is a metaphor and its appeal is based on your interpretation. This film is not just about the visceral scares, but rather the racial commentary behind it which evokes a reminder of the oppression of black people even in modern day 2020. It reflects on the rude awakening that is the Black Lives Matter phenomenon in the U.S. However, Den of Geek, arguably one of my favorite film critics, denotes my exact sentiments in their review: “Not every horror film with a social message can be Get Out, and they [Antebellum] shouldn’t be striving to imitate that”.

Both Bush and Renz’s artistic ambitions and social consciousness gets you feeling nostalgic about similar films such as Midsommar, The Lighthouse and (of course) Jordan Peele’s critically-acclaimed Get Out film. Series-wise, be on the lookout for some Black Mirror and The Handmaid’s Tale feels on Antebellum.

A fan of reading novels? Author Octavia Butler’s 1979 book, Kindred, basically touches on what Antebellum set out to “accomplish” with its storyline – Dehumanized black folk who try to reclaim power over their lives while enslaved in a plantation in the 19th century.

Despite what it set out to achieve, Antebellum was rather disappointing in my opinion. And no, it wasn’t Monáe’s fault – she was nothing short of exceptional!


The Hits

• Pivotal moments where class privilege becomes a spectacle.
• Eden’s strong-will to fight back.
• Production design choices effectively anchored the tone of the film.

The Misses
• Much of the film rests on Monae’s performance. Every other person in the film, more specifically the plantation scenes, was as good as useless.
• The film’s ending raises questions which Bush and Renz fail to account for.

OMG Moment
The sadistic scene at the beginning, heh!

Be sure to watch it by getting your tickets from KenyaBuzz.


Movie Courtesy of Westgate Cinema

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