If you’re looking for a creepy-looking film to add to your watchlist, then look no further than mysterious, surreal chiller Antebellum.
The details of this upcoming horror are shrouded in secrecy for the time being, and all we have to go on is an enticing teaser trailer dripping with atmosphere. This is accompanied by a synopsis explaining that the film centres around a “successful author…[who] finds herself trapped in a horrifying reality and must uncover the mind-bending mystery before it’s too late”.
Intriguing, no? Although this isn’t a lot of information, we know enough about this film, which stars Janelle Monáe, to be very excited about it. And we’re sharing those reasons with you right here.
1. An intriguing premise that has something to say
As stated, we don’t know too much about the film’s storyline. But the premise is undeniably arresting, as author Veronica (Monáe) is seemingly transported back in time to experience life as a slave in nightmarish 19th-century America.
However, the trailer suggests there is much more at play than meets the eye. Why are there planes flying through the air in the scenes set in the past? And what’s the significance of that old-fashioned horse-drawn carriage in the present-day sequences? Who is the ghostly girl in the corridor? What is the “it” being referred to? And how and why is Veronica time-travelling in the first place?
All of these are questions we’re eager to have answered. Moreover Antebellum looks to be more than your average horror film. Similar to recent hits Get Out and Us, this horror will more than likely contain some poignant messages behind the terror. The film’s title refers to the period in history leading up to the American Civil War, and the directors’, producer’s, and star’s previous works (more on which momentarily) have been heavily focused on socially-conscious themes.
It’s, therefore, not out of the question to believe that this film will give us something just as thought-provoking to think about when the credits roll.
2. It’s the feature film debut from Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz
There are plenty of new and exciting voices currently setting the horror genre alight, including Ari Aster (Hereditary; Midsommar), Robert Eggers (The Witch; The Lighthouse) and Jordan Peele (Get Out; Us). And we’ve got two more names to the list: directing duo Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz.
Bush and Renz began their collaboration working in advertising and fashion, making adverts for companies including Vogue and Porsche. But perhaps they’re best known for helming cause-based shorts including the heart-breaking Against the Wall, which featured Michael B. Jordan, Danny Glover, and Michael K. Williams. Some of their other work includes the videos for “Kill Jay Z” and Maxwell’s ‘The Glass House (We Never Saw it Coming)’.
This pair certainly know how to get their voice heard, and now that they’ve been signed by agency WME, we can’t wait to see what they can do with bigger projects like Antebellum.
3. It stars the sensational Janelle Monáe
Another reason why this film should be catching your attention? Star Janelle Monáe, who has begun to make huge waves in the film scene over the last few years.
Beginning her artistic career as an avant-garde R&B artist, Monae’s 2010 debut album ArchAndroid earned itself plenty of critical praise, and a Grammy nomination, for its sheer musical scope and conceptual content. She released her second album (The Electric Lady) in 2013, before making her feature film debut with a vocal role in Rio 2 the following year.
However, it wasn’t until her breakthrough role in the multi-Oscar-winning Moonlight that Monae’s acting talents were revealed. In Barry Jenkins’ triumphant drama, Monae stands out from the crowd, radiating calm dignity as Teresa, the compassionate girlfriend of drug dealer Juan (Mahershala Ali).
Since then, Monáe has appeared in Hidden Figures, Welcome To Marwen, UglyDolls, Harriet and the live-action version of Lady and the Tramp, which streamed om Disney+. Having won numerous entertainment awards, Monáe is someone to look out for.
4. The cinematography is by Pedro Luque
No matter what twisted surprises Antebellum has in store for us, we can guarantee that the movie will look absolutely amazing, thanks to one Pedro Luque.
After working on some Spanish-language horror shorts, Luque showed us just how unnerving he could make a house in claustrophobic, one-shot The Silent House (La Casa Muda) in 2010. Other notable credits include ‘Segment E’ from The ABCs of Death 2, Don’t Breathe, The Girl in the Spider’s Web and the Swamp Thing series.
So, it’s no surprise how creepy the Antebellum trailer looks, given that Luque is an unsung veteran of horror. The film’s teaser is the perfect demonstration of his talents as each visually striking frame, more haunting than the last, entices us into the flick’s tantalising central mystery.
5. It’s produced by Sean McKittrick
Don’t know the name? What if we told you that Sean McKittrick has been twice nominated for an Oscar?
Not only the man behind Jake Gyllenhaal cult classic Donnie Darko, McKittrick has continued to produce other acclaimed films, the biggest of which is Jordan Peele’s Oscar-winning horror/satire Get Out, hailed as a landmark in the genre. McKittrick also produced Peele’s sensationally good follow-up movie Us, a twisted tale of doppelgangers starring Lupita Nyong’o, and steered veteran helmer Spike Lee towards his first Oscar with the blistering BlacKkKlansman.
Given Antebellum engages with race and the horrific legacy of the slave trade, we’d say McKittrick's past credentials mean he’s more than qualified for the job. The film is also produced by filmmakers Bush and Renz, Raymond Mansfield (Get Out; BlacKkKlansman), Zev Foreman (Colossal), and Lezlie Wills (All Rise) alongside executive producers Alex G. Scott (Lady Bird; The Revenant) and Kenny Mac in his first credit.
Andy Murray is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team. Follow him on Twitter.