From the producer of Get Out and Us, Antebellum (2020) is hard to watch as it depicts the realities of slavery. Everything from branding a human being to committing rape and murder is vividly portrayed. Thankfully, some scenes take place in the present day which give the viewer a much needed break from the relentless cruelties. Still, one theme of the film is the connection between the bloody past and the present.

"Antebellum will keep you intrigued and guessing, right up until the exciting end"


Veronica Henley (Janelle Monae) is an affluent black woman who lives with her handsome husband Nick and loving daughter Kennedi. She enjoys a successful career as a writer and sociologist, having just penned a book called Shedding the Coping Persona. While promoting the book, she encounters a white woman named Elizabeth (Jena Malone). Smug and condescending, Elizabeth leaves her with a bad impression. But that’s just the beginning.

Veronica meets up with two friends, Dawn (Gabourey Sidibe) and Sarah (Lily Cowles). At the time she’s staying in a hotel that strikes her as “off.” A concierge is rude, the maid apparently hasn’t cleaned her room, and a strange girl appears telling her, “You’ll get in trouble for talking.” Someone mysterious sends her flowers with the message, “Look forward to your homecoming.” Then she gets into a car she believes is her Uber ride, but Elizabeth is the driver. From this point on, Veronica plunges into a nightmare.Antebellum

Eden, also played by Janelle Monae, finds herself on a Southern plantation. The Confederate military general who runs it has taken her as his private property. He brands her like an animal. He rapes her repeatedly and says, “They will never take you away from me.” Janelle Monae has few lines here, but her face reveals both terror and determination. Other slaves approach her, hoping she’ll help them. They’re right in their assessment of Eden: she does have the strength to find a way out.

It’s hard to write about Antebellum without giving away the twist. But despite the harsh slavery scenes, this is the kind of movie to watch more than once. After the first time, you’ll notice clues and Easter eggs throughout. One recurring symbol is butterflies, which pop up in this film like rabbits did in Us. The filmmakers also included background details, like paintings of Southern plantations in the modern scenes. The little girl is dragging a doll around, with a string tied to its neck. Even the music sounds jarring and perfectly mood appropriate. Obviously, the creators put all kinds of effort into the story. Antebellum will keep you intrigued and guessing, right up until the exciting end.

4/5 stars


Home Video Distributor: Lionsgate Films
Available on Blu-ray
- November 3, 2020
Screen Formats: 2.39:1
: English SDH
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A



Special Features:

Included on the blu-ray disc are three short featurettes that contain some behind-the-scenes footage as well as interviews and discussions pertaining to certain aspects of the film's making.

  • The History in Front of Us: Deconstructing Antebellum
  • A Hint of Horror: The Clues of Antebellum
  • Opening Antebellum
  • Deleted scenes
  • Trailer

Film Details


MPAA Rating: R for disturbing violent content, language, and sexual references.
105 mins
: Gerard Bush, Christopher Renz
Gerard Bush, Christopher Renz
Janelle Monáe, Jena Malone, Jack Huston, Kiersey Clemons, Gabourey Sidibe
: Comedy | Crime
From the Producer of Get Out and Us.
Memorable Movie Quote: "The unresolved past can certainly wreak havoc on the present."
Theatrical Distributor:
Official Site:
Release Date:
September 18, 2020
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
Novmeber 3, 2020.
Synopsis: Successful author Veronica Henley finds herself trapped in a horrifying reality and must uncover the mind-bending mystery before it’s too late.