Review: Antebellum 2020

During this pandemic, we have watched the uncertainty of Hollywood unfold. Will theaters open, will people watch if there available, and of course, will movies goers be willing to fork over the cash. Out on PVOD this weekend comes Antebellum with a hefty price tag of $20. Antebellum being the feature film for writer/director duo Gerard Bush, Christopher Renz, and it shows!

The Players

  • Director: Gerard Bush, Christopher Renz
  • Writer: Gerard Bush, Christopher Renz
  • Cast : Janelle Monáe, Eric Lange, Jena Malone, Tongayi Chirisa

The Good

Fans of Janelle Monae will not be disappointed by her stellar performance by her first lead role. Particularly at her portrayal of Eden, the senators favored slave. Audiences also get a fun appearance from Gabourey Sidibe as Dawn. A fierce 30 something that knows exactly what, who and where she wants to spend her energy on. Lending much-needed levity midway through the film. Lastly, the costume design is a sight of marvel. Mary Zophres delivered some impressive work. Admittedly it’s not something I focus on in a film, but it’s 100 percent worth mentioning.

The Bad (mild spoilers)

Antebellum does bring to light social commentary from the past and present. It is unclear why, usually, social commentary can serve as a think piece. Something that might linger in the audience’s mind, however, that’s not the case here. The “twist” is very uninspired. It’s fair to say that all work is derivative at this point. The reveal is a plot device semi perfected by M Night Shyamalan. He has, for lack of better words, mastered the art of the reveal. Not all of his work is perfect by any means and doesn’t have to be. Shyamalan has still managed to make a career out of it and for that deserves the credit.

Let’s call a spade a spade Bush and Renz made adduction thiller, and someone thought it was good to take the beginning of the film and insert it into the middle of the film. The narrative doesn’t support this editing choice. There’s just no way that was a direction they aimed to take from the beginning. If it was, the audience needed a more substantial story complete with an explanation of why!

Final Thoughts

Where are the layers, or the depth? While social comentarty is definitely on trend in horror. This is not a horror film as the marketing may want you to believe! In no way should genre fans rush to see this movie. Save your money for some other release or, at the very least, wait for it to be a cheaper rental. All the actors do their best at carrying film. Even with all that star power, Antebellum isn’t a noteworthy film other than the set pieces and costumes. Perhaps we may get a directors cut one day with a little more substance.

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