The producers of Jordan Peele's Get Out and follow-up film Us are now back with a new blend of horror and racial commentary, with the new film Antebellum. The movie comes by way of the writer-director team of Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz (Kill Jay-Z), and places actor/music superstar Janelle Monáe in the lead role. The first teaser trailer for Antebellum is now out, and it will certainly generate buzz for its subject matter. The teaser is a collage of vague-yet-haunting footage, but between the imagery and the title, the concept behind the movie seems pretty clear: turning the phrase "the horrors of slavery" into a full-on horror movie concept.
Synopsis: "Celebrated author Veronica Henley finds herself trapped in a horrifying reality and must uncover the mind-bending mystery before it’s too late."
If you don't know the reference of the title, "Antebellum South" was the 18th century period in US history where the plantation system (and the slave labor that made it function) ruled the American Southern economy. It was culture and social order that lasted until the Civil War in 1861, when the cultural divide between abolitionists and slavers reached a violent schism point.
So, based on the footage we see above, it seems Antebellum will be centered on Janelle Monáe's character, Veronica, who appears to be a successful black author and mother, living in the modern American South. The main character seems to enjoy an affluent life with a circle of similarly affluent female friends, both black and white, until things slide into the supernatural. The concept seems to hinge on elements of the old Antebellum South manifesting in the modern world, and/or Veronica being drawn back into the south's dark past, until her reality and the people in it start to be torn apart.
Given the track record of Get Out, Antebellum looks like it could be timely cultural commentary. The film will seemingly make metaphor out of how dark and discriminatory belief systems that ruled America's past are now making a resurgence. It also seems to consider how both the traumas of America's past and the evil ideas that propelled it, never really faded away, despite our collective attempts to pretend otherwise. It's a pretty powerful (and volatile) set of themes to navigate - but at the very least, the imagery that Bush and Renz have captured looks pretty gorgeous.
The poster for Antebellum similarly echoes a theme of the violent trauma of change, with its bloody butterfly image:
The teaser also reveals the cast of the film, which includes Janelle Monáe, Marque Richardson II, Eric Lange, Jack Huston, Kiersey Clemons, Tongayi Chirisa, Gabourey Sidibe, Rob Aramayo, Lily Cowles, and Jena Malone.
Antebellum will be in theaters April 24, 2020.