Antebellum (film)

Antebellum poster.jpeg
Official promotional poster
Directed by
  • Gerard Bush
  • Christopher Renz
Produced by
  • Raymond Mansfield
  • Sean McKittrick
  • Zev Forman
  • Gerard Bush
  • Christopher Renz
  • Lezlie Wills
Written by
  • Gerard Bush
  • Christopher Renz
Music by
  • Nate Wonder
  • Roman Gianarthur
CinematographyPedro Luque
Edited byJohn Axelrad
  • QC Entertainment
  • Bush+Renz
Distributed byLionsgate
Release date
  • September 18, 2020 (2020-09-18) (United States)
Running time
106 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$15 million[2]
Box office$4.8 million[3][4]

Antebellum is a 2020 American horror 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 a 19th-century Southern slave plantation.

Antebellum was released in the United States through video on demand on September 18, 2020, and theatrically in several overseas countries. The film received mixed reviews from critics, who felt it did not live up to the premise's full potential.


In the midst of the American Civil War, a Louisiana plantation is being run by the Confederate States Army. Slaves are treated harshly and not allowed to speak without permission. Those who attempt to escape are killed and their bodies burned in a crematorium.

A group of new slaves are brought to the plantation. Among them is a pregnant woman whom the plantation owner, Elizabeth, names Julia and places in the care of another slave, Eden, the unwilling captive and rape victim of a Confederate general referred to only as "Him". Julia asks Eden to plan an escape; having already been branded for an earlier failed escape attempt, Eden urges her to keep her head down. That evening, a shy Confederate soldier named Daniel beats Julia when she speaks to him without permission, causing her to miscarry. Eden later discovers her lifeless body hanging from her cabin's rafters.

After being raped by the general, Eden falls asleep. She awakens in the present day, as Veronica Henley, a renowned sociologist, which is actually several weeks ago and is the backstory to her abduction. She is preparing to take a trip to speak at a seminar and promote her book, which is particularly hard for her because she has to leave her loving husband, Nick, and her daughter, Kennedi. While in Louisiana on her promotional tour, she meets her friends and agrees to go to dinner with them. Elizabeth, posing as a representative of a private company, sneaks into her hotel room and steals her lipstick. Veronica leaves dinner in what she believes is her Uber ride but Elizabeth surprises her and has her husband Jasper knock her out.

Veronica wakes up and tells her fellow captive Eli, whose wife had been killed during their previous failed attempt, that they will once again try to escape. She steals the general's phone while he is asleep but drops it when Daniel walks by. Eli kills Daniel with a hatchet. As the phone can only be unlocked with facial recognition, Veronica goes back to the cabin to find that the general is awake; Eli is killed trying to protect her and she manages to stab the general with his own sword before unlocking the phone and sending her location to her husband. As she hides the general in the crematorium, Jasper runs into her. Veronica lures him and another guard into the crematorium and sets fire to it, leaving the three men to burn to death as she steals the general's horse and rides off.

Elizabeth pursues her on horseback and reveals that she handpicked every slave on the plantation except for Veronica, whom she kidnapped at her father's insistence. Veronica knocks Elizabeth off her horse and puts a rope around her neck, dragging her along until she hits a statue of Robert E. Lee, breaking her neck. Veronica flees the pursuing soldiers into the chaos of a battle, revealing that the plantation is actually part of a Civil War reenactment park owned by the general under his real name of Senator Blake Denton. Veronica escapes as the police arrive to liberate her and the other captives. The park is shut down afterwards.


  • Janelle Monáe as Veronica Henley, a sociologist who gets captured and turned into a slave named "Eden."
  • Eric Lange as Blake Denton, a senator who runs a Civil War reenactment park where he operates as a general named "Him" and holds captive African-Americans as his personal slaves.
  • Jena Malone as Elizabeth,[5] a plantation owner.
  • Jack Huston as Jasper, the husband of Elizabeth who operates as a confederate captain.
  • Kiersey Clemons as Julia, the general's latest slave.
  • Gabourey Sidibe as Dawn
  • Marque Richardson as Nick DeWall, the husband of Veronica.
  • Tongayi Chirisa as Eli, a professor who like Veronica is also a slave to the general.
  • Robert Aramayo as Daniel, a shy confederate soldier who masks his lack of confidence with rage against slaves.
  • Lily Cowles as Sarah
  • London Boyce as Kennedi, the daughter of Veronica.


In March 2019, it was announced Janelle Monáe had joined the cast of the film, with Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz directing from a screenplay they wrote. Ray Mansfield and Sean McKittrick will serve as producers on the film under their QC Entertainment banner, while Lionsgate will distribute.[6] In April 2019, Eric Lange, Jena Malone, Jack Huston, Kiersey Clemons, Tongayi Chirisa, Gabourey Sidibe, Robert Aramayo and Lily Cowles joined the cast of the film.[7] In May 2019, Marque Richardson joined the cast of the film.[8]

Principal photography began in May 2019.[9]


Antebellum was released through video on demand in the United States on September 18, 2020, while still playing in theaters in select countries.[10] This includes a theatrical release in Australia on October 1, 2020.[11] The film was originally scheduled to be released on April 24, 2020, but was delayed to August 21, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, before being pulled off the release schedule temporarily in July 2020.[12][13]


VOD rentals

In its debut weekend, Antebellum was the number one most rented title across film and television on Amazon Prime Video, and number one rented film on FandangoNow and Apple TV, and third on Google Play. IndieWire estimated that if about 500,000 homes rented the film, it would result in $8 million for the studio.[2] In its second weekend the film topped the FandangoNow and Spectrum film charts, while finishing second at Google Play and sixth at Apple TV, and remained in the top three across most platforms in its third weekend.[14][15]

Critical response

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 28% based on 145 reviews, with an average rating of 4.74/10. The website's critics consensus reads: "Antebellum fails to connect its images with any meaning, making for a largely unpleasant experience lacking any substantial scares."[16] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 45 out of 100, based on 35 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews."[17]

Peter Debruge from Variety called it "A mind blowing thriller"[18] and Stephanie Zacharek from Time writing "Even if we didn't live in a country where a shockingly large fraction of people think Confederate monuments are A-O.K., Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz's Antebellum would resonate like the boom of a Union Army cannon". [19] David Ehrlich of IndieWire gave the film a "C+" and wrote, "An artful and provocative movie about the enduring horror of America's original sin, Antebellum can't follow through on its own concept."[20] Writing for The Hollywood Reporter, Jourdain Searles said the film was "more interested in making a point than digging deep" and "In the end, Antebellum is undone by a lack of empathy and emotion. It has no real perspective on the past and thus fails to make any real impact on the present."[21]


  1. ^ "Antebellum (15)". British Board of Film Classification. April 14, 2020. Retrieved August 27, 2020.
  2. ^ a b Brueggemann, Tom (September 21, 2020). "'Antebellum' Immediate #1 on VOD Charts While RBG Films Soar on Apple TV". IndieWire. Retrieved September 22, 2020.
  3. ^ "Antebellum (2020)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved October 11, 2020.
  4. ^ "Antebellum (2020) - Financial Information". The Numbers. Retrieved October 5, 2020.
  5. ^ "Jena Malone Antebellum interview". [Entertainment Weekly]. September 19, 2020.
  6. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (March 21, 2019). "Janelle Monáe To Star In Lionsgate Pic From Filmmakers Gerard Bush + Christopher Renz". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 16, 2019.
  7. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (April 16, 2019). "Eric Lange, Jena Malone, Jack Huston, More Join Janelle Monáe In Lionsgate Race Relations Pic From 'Get Out' & 'BlacKkKlansman' Outfit QC Entertainment". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 16, 2019.
  8. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (May 17, 2019). "Marque Richardson Joins Janelle Monáe In Lionsgate Film From 'Get Out' Producers". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 17, 2019.
  9. ^ Renz, Christopher (May 8, 2019). "Day 1". Instagram. Retrieved May 16, 2019.
  10. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (August 6, 2020). "Janelle Monáe Horror Movie 'Antebellum' Skips U.S. Theaters & Heads To PVOD". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved August 6, 2020.
  11. ^ "Antebellum - to Cinemas October 1 - Roadshow". Village Roadshow. Retrieved September 22, 2020.
  12. ^ McNary, Dave (May 1, 2020). "Janelle Monae's Horror Film 'Antebellum' Sets August Release Date". Variety.
  13. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (2020-07-31). "Lionsgate Takes Janelle Monáe Horror Movie 'Antebellum' Off Calendar Temporarily". Deadline. Retrieved 2020-07-31.
  14. ^ Brueggemann, Tom (September 28, 2020). "'Ava' Joins 'Antebellum' Atop VOD Charts While 'Enola Holmes' Rules at Netflix". IndieWire. Retrieved September 29, 2020.
  15. ^ Brueggemann, Tom (October 5, 2020). "'Ava' Takes Over as the Top VOD Choice, with Thriller 'Alone' Still Strong". IndieWire. Retrieved October 6, 2020.
  16. ^ "Antebellum (2020)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
  17. ^ "Antebellum Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved September 27, 2020.
  18. ^ Debruge, Peter; Debruge, Peter (31 August 2020). "'Antebellum' Review: Janelle Monáe Stands Up to the Horrors of Slavery in Mind-Blowing Thriller". Variety.
  19. ^
  20. ^ Ehrlich, David (August 31, 2020). "'Antebellum' Review: Janelle Monáe's American Horror Story Trips on Its Own Wild Twists". IndieWire. Retrieved August 31, 2020.
  21. ^ Jourdain Searles (August 31, 2020). "'Antebellum': Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 31, 2020.

External links


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