Antebellum [Review]


To what extent does the past continue to dictate our future? Antebellum explores the relationship of slavery to the modern day, as main character Eden/Veronica (Janelle Monae) tries to navigate her life as a slave. 

Directed by Christopher Renz & Gerard Bush, Antebellum was originally set to be released on April 24, 2020. After months of delay due to COVID-19, Antebellum will be making its way to video on demand and select theaters on September 18, 2020. There has been growing anticipation as the movie has been expected to add to the emerging sub-genre of what I like to think of as “Woke Horror” (horror movies with underlying societal analysis), with the likes of Get Out and Us.

By utilizing Sean McKittrick, the producer in Get Out and Us during marketing, gave the impression of Jordan Peele’s involvement. Unfortunately, Antebellum does not nearly reach the same level of smart, entertaining, and terrifying social commentary. The entire plot rests on the back of a twist that once revealed deflated any hope I had for some redeeming qualities.

Given Janelle Monae’s previous notable work, such as Moonlight and Hidden Figures, I was thrilled to see her on screen again. Her character is smart, successful, and driven with an awareness of society’s pitfalls yet her character development more or less ends there. Many of the characters are overwhelmingly hollow. Gabourey Sidibe’s character Dawn is quick witted and confident but came across as a one-dimensional interpretation of a black woman that failed to capture any nuance. The cast is filled with wonderful and talented actors that were not utilized to their full potential because of a script that was tone deaf.

To me, the purpose of Woke Horror is to bring fresh perspectives and a critical analysis of society to a genre that often casts aside black characters and stories. The overall statement on how slavery and racism continues to have an impact on modern day, while well meaning, is an excuse to make yet another movie about slavery. Black communities ask for versatile stories, meaningful representation in front and behind the camera, not recycled slave storylines that feel a little too comfortable depicting Black violence. 

Save your coin on this one because the only thing scary is that multiple people thought this movie was a good idea.

Read more of Kennisha’s reviews on Take Two Reviews.