Oh Antebellum…let me start by pointing out the good. The film is shot beautifully and Janelle Monae really really tries hard in her role. But after the first twenty minutes, not only is the big twist in the film revealed, but the story take a weird almost comically bad left turn. Every white person is practically depicted as a mustache twirling over the top cartoon villain. But before I start butchering this contender for worst film of the year, let me give you a quick run down of what it’s about:
Antebellum is a 2020 American psychological horror thriller 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 must escape from what appears to be a 19th-century Southern slave plantation.
Now the concept of the film (even if it is kind of a ripoff of The Village) is good but it’s the story that starts to unravel pretty quickly. The film has a severe identity crisis. It doesn’t know if it wants to be a horror film or a statement film. Sadly for the audience it doesn’t deliver on either. It’s just a ho-hum, whitey is evil, let’s rise against them, and show them they are evil film.
Actress Jena Malone is hilariously bad in the film as a wealthy (white) head hunter who from what I could gather was rounding up influential African Americans and kidnapping them. Why? Because she’s white, that’s all the motivation we get. Her southern accent only further shows how the film paints its (white) villains as one-note relentless monsters.
The big non twist is that “Antebellum” is a Civil War re-enactment site. How nobody saw a bunch of black people being bused into there I have no idea.
In conclusion, Antebellum really wants to take itself seriously but doesn’t know how. It’s a great concept with horrible execution. Speaking of execution this dumpster fire of a film gets the re-instituted HipsterZOMBIEJoint Experience headshot of disapproval: