FILM REVIEW | Antebellum

Difficult to watch: Kiersey Clemons and Janelle Monae star in the new horror-ish film Antebellum, rated MA15+, in cinemas now.
Difficult to watch: Kiersey Clemons and Janelle Monae star in the new horror-ish film Antebellum, rated MA15+, in cinemas now.

New horror film Antebellum was being pegged as the next Get Out.

Prominently billed as being 'from the producer of Get Out and Us', viewers were sure to expect an insightful, on-point horror on par with the works of Oscar-winner Jordan Peele.

Unfortunately, Antebellum doesn't really live up to that hype. But, if you excise those expectations from your viewing experience, it's still got a lot going for it.

Starring Janelle Monae - whose supporting turns in Oscar darlings Moonlight and Hidden Figures prove her acting skills are at least as good as her talents as a musician - in the lead, Antebellum opens on a slave plantation. Monae plays a character called Eden.

The graphic opening - reminiscent of best picture winner 12 Years a Slave - sets up the cruelty and inhumane conditions slaves were forced to endure at the hands of slave-owners and Confederate soldiers.

It's not exactly easy to watch the opening portion of the movie, which is paradoxically absolutely visually stunning, but, like all movies that highlight the atrocities of history, it is important.

We soon move to another timeline where we again meet Janelle Monae, but this time she's called Veronica.

Veronica is an author and lecturer who speaks on the long-held racism black Americans - especially women - face, and is quite successful in her field. She's set to travel out of state for a speaking engagement, returning to her home city.

It's difficult to see where the film is going for a long stretch of the time, with seemingly very little - apart from the actors - connecting the timelines. But once it all becomes clear, the true horror of the film kicks in.

This is not a horror of jump scares or gore - this is a horror of history and human cruelty. Some viewers may be disappointed by the lack of genuine frights in something purporting to be a horror film, but those who go in open-minded should find a fair bit to like. The cinematography is achingly beautiful at times, and the costuming is perfection.

Monae is supported well by Jack Huston (Their Finest), Jena Malone (Sucker Punch), Kiersey Clemons (Dope), Gabourey Sidibe (Precious) and Tongayi Chirisa (Palm Springs).

Rating: 7/10

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