Janelle Monáe plays two roles in this film; as Eden, she is a slave working on a cotton plantation with barely enough fight in her left to plot or risk another escape, and as Vanessa she is a modern day author and speaker encouraging African Americans to shed their coping personas in favour of true healing and strength.

In fact, many of the actors are playing dual roles, appearing in both universes, a subtle and direct way to measure the progress that’s been made, and the ways in which it’s stagnated. The thing is, though, it begins to appear that these two universes are in some way connected.

This is a horror film that draws its horror from reality rather than from blood and guts and gore. It’s a bit of an allegory, like Jordan Peele’s Get Out. There’s very little you can say about this movie that’s not spoilery, so I’ll stick with this:

Did I like it? Yes I did. I liked the concept. I liked the execution. I liked Janelle Monáe’s performance very much. I like the slow unfurling of truth. I liked the terrible connection to our own present day. I liked the dawning of horror and the unsettling ending.

It didn’t impress all critics the way it did me. Some felt it heavy handed, which is true. It lacks the finesse of a script by Peele. Others felt the brutal images didn’t add up to nearly enough, but I say give me a movie that bites off more than it can chew any day over a film that doesn’t dare to bite at all.

9 thoughts on “Antebellum

  1. Experience Film

    I like the dual time period / roles motif going on here. Especially As a device used to show progress, and/or lack there of. Remind me of one of fav films, Cloud Atlas, where all the actors played upwards of 5! distinct, yet intricately connected parts.

    Jordan Peele really blended Race and Horror together so perfectly. Get Out is one of my fav films, and it seems appropriate to compare most future horror, and especially race-horror themes films to it.


  2. unholypursuit

    Interesting review. Seems like a movie I wouldn’t mind watching. However, I think I read a book similar to this movie. “m not absolutely sure for its been a few years. But I think in the story I read a modern day woman had gone back in time. And in her time traveling the South had won the Civil War. I remember she was playing a dual role as a writer and a slave of the past. I can’t remember the name of the book but the story sounds close or similar.


  3. Vanessa Sprankle

    I’m curious about this one. The reviews I’ve scanned are not great, but reviewers don’t often get horror. I just hope it’s not too cruel for no reason, that gets annoying. Thanks for the recommend, I think I’ll give it a go.



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