Initially destined for a theatrical run, the film hits digital platforms trumpeting a “Get Out” pedigree in its advertising marketing campaign, since there’s an overlap among the many producing groups.
Extra straight, the movie marks the directing debut of Gerard Bush + Christopher Renz, who’ve championed social-justice points by means of their promoting work. The opening script contains a quote from creator William Faulkner, whose intent will finally develop into clearer: “The previous isn’t lifeless. It isn’t even previous.”
If that appears like a well timed technique of drawing a line from the horrors of slavery to the racism of as we speak, you have come to the suitable place.
The story begins on a plantation, the place the brutal overseers perform grisly punishments in opposition to these tilling the fields. A couple of have simply tried to flee, led by Veronica (Janelle Monae), they usually pay a heavy value for his or her resistance, which does nothing to curb her defiance.
Additionally written by Bush + Renz, the script take too lengthy earlier than revealing what makes “Antebellum” completely different, however the center portion — a “The Twilight Zone”-like section when it is onerous to make sure precisely what is going on on — is definitely the movie’s strongest. (Even the trailer arguably provides away an excessive amount of, so the much less one is aware of, the higher.)
The ultimate stretch, against this, veers into extra acquainted thriller territory, and feels particularly rushed towards the tip, forsaking a bunch of nagging, unanswered questions. That gives meals for thought, but it surely’s additionally what separates the film from one thing like “Get Out,” which deftly fleshed out its horror underpinnings.
Though the filmmakers (in a taped message) expressed disappointment that the film wasn’t making its debut in theaters, in a wierd manner, the on-demand format considerably works in its favor. Within the press notes, Bush says the aim was “to pressure the viewers to have a look at the real-life horror of racism by means of the lens of movie horror. We’re touchdown in the midst of the very conversations that we hoped ‘Antebellum’ would spur.”
“Antebellum” ought to add to that dialogue, so mission achieved on that degree. Monae can also be fairly good in her first main movie function (she did beforehand star within the collection “Homecoming’s” second season), however in any other case, many of the characters stay underdeveloped.
In a theater, the tendency with a film so depending on a central thriller is likely to be to develop into antsy. At dwelling, “Antebellum” is price seeing, not solely due to what it has to say about America’s previous and current, however as a reminder of the customarily yawning hole between an intriguing thought and a totally realized movie.
“Antebellum” premieres Sept. 18 by way of digital platforms.