Directed by: Christopher Renz, Gerard Bush
Written by: Christopher Renz, Gerard Bush
Starring: Eric Lange, Gabourey Sidibe, Jack Huston, Janelle Monáe, Jena Malone, Kiersey Clemons, Lily Cowles, Robert Aramayo, Tongayi Chirisa
Enslaved by the Confederates to work in the cotton fields in the Southern states of America, Eden endures the suffering as she plans to make her escape for freedom.
From the producers behind Get Out and Us, ANTEBELLUM is a distressing piece of cinema that will unsettle its viewers with its tale of black slavery but its plot shows there’s more to this film than what meets the eye.
I went into ANTEBELLUM without watching the trailer beforehand or reading up on what it was about which I would say is the best way to enjoy this movie as you really don’t want to spoil it for yourself. It shocked and surprised me in many ways and managed to reinvent a similar tale I, and many others, have seen before but put an entirely new spin on it. I was already invested in the story and tragic hardships the characters had to endure being enslaved but the narrative took me to places I didn’t expect and shocked me even more than I thought I could be whilst watching this film.
The performances in the movie are fantastic with Janelle Monáe taking the lead as Eden, a slave on the plantation who’s last escape attempt didn’t go smoothly. Eli, played by Tongayi Chirisa, encourages her to try once again to escape with him but Eden knows they have to play it smart as if their next escape attempt fails, it could be their last. This desperate urge to escape their shackles only heightens with the arrival of more male and female slaves and they realise they need to act sooner rather than later.
The supporting performances by Eric Lange, Jack Huston and Jena Malone as plantation Chief, Captain and his wife really add to the nastiness of it all as they oversee, sneer and rain down judgement and punishment on their captive prisoners. Whilst some of the female slaves are dressed in beautiful dresses, no doubt due to the fact they’re promised to the Confederate soldiers there, it does very little to hide the grim realities they face. Behind the big, expensive mansion, the slaves are working the cotton fields, and across the fields a smoking shack stands where those who disobey are destroyed.
ANTEBELLUM is by no means a perfect film but behind its mystery, thrills and horrors lies some very real truths that one cannot simply shake off or ignore. The fears, frustrations and injustices culminate in some terrific action sequences which ultimately brings the film to a well-executed conclusion.
With easter eggs littered throughout the film, eagle-eyed viewers will get more than they bargained for with this movie and it’s all the better for it. The twists and turns of the film, along with the addition of Gabourey Sidibe and Lily Cowes as Dawn and Sarah, make this film one of the more refreshing watches I’ve seen in quite a while. I love it when cinema surprises me and this nightmare-inspired tale is definitely one of them.