While, unfortunately, foregoing a theatrical release, Antebellum still has a planned release on September 18th. Come read up on its characters.

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While, unfortunately, foregoing a theatrical release, Antebellum still has a planned release on September 18th. Come read up on its characters.

Director(s) Gerard Bush, Christopher Renz
Writer(s) Gerard Bush, Christopher Renz
Release Date (Digital) 9/18/2020
Noted Cast Members
Veronica/ Eden Janelle Monáe
Captain Jasper Jack Huston
Elizabeth Jena Malone
Him Eric Lange
Eli Tongayi Chirisa
Julia Kiersey Clemons
Daniel Robert Aramayo
Dawn Gabourey Sidibe
Sarah Lily Cowles
Kennedi London Boyce

Official Synopsis

Successful author Veronica Henley (Janelle Monáe) finds herself trapped in a horrifying reality that forces her to confront the past, present and future – before it’s too late.

Cast Guide

Note: Descriptions are partly based on presumptions from images and/or other press materials.

Veronica (Janelle Monáe)

Veronica (Janelle Monae) with her daughter Kennedi (London Boyce)
Veronica (Janelle Monae) and Kennedi (London Boyce) | Matt Kennedy

Veronica is a Ph.D. sociologist and bestselling author whose books explore the disenfranchisement of black people in the U.S. She’s devoted to her loving husband Nick and young daughter Kennedi, both of whom she must leave to travel to New Orleans, where she’s to speak at a talk.

Eden (Janelle Monáe)

Janelle Monae as Eden looking out a window.
Janelle Monae as Eden | Matt Kennedy

Eden is an enslaved woman living in the Civil War era, connected to Veronica.

Captain Jasper (Jack Huston)

The sadistic overseer of the plantation Eden is at.

Elizabeth (Jena Malone)

Elizabeth is Captain Jasper’s wife.

Him (Eric Lange)

A man only known as “Him,” is the owner of Eden’s plantation. Also, he is a “high-placed Louisiana politician whose family has long owned the plantation and the land around it.”

Eli (Tongayi Chirisa)

One of Eden’s peers who advocates for her leading an escape and whose stature makes him notable.

Julia (Kiersey Clemons)

Julia (Kiersey Clemons) and Eden (Janelle Monae) on two different sides of a wall.
Julia (Kiersey Clemons) and Eden (Janelle Monae) | Matt Kennedy

Julia is one of the newest additions to the plantation and is described as a young and defiant woman who will take an unconventional approach to her situation.

Daniel (Robert Aramayo)

Daniel is A Confederate soldier who is taken by Julia after seeing her at a lavish dinner.

Dawn (Gabourey Sidibe)

Dawn (Gabourey Sidibe), Veronica (Janelle Monae) and Sarah (Lily Cowles) taking a picture together.
Dawn (Gabourey Sidibe), Veronica (Janelle Monae) and Sarah (Lily Cowles) | Matt Kennedy

All that is known about Dawn is that she is affluent, knows her worth, and is the epitome of Black girl magic. Also, it is said she is a possible scene-stealer in the film.

Sarah (Lily Cowles)

Dawn and Veronica’s friend, who is a white woman, and helps amplify the micro-aggressions Black women deal with. But, beyond that role, she is also as accomplished as her friends, and can be as goofy and funny as Dawn.

First Impression

Like The High Note, not getting to see this in theaters feels borderline offensive. Mind you, I am one of those people who often believe some hold onto the idea of a theatrical release strictly for prestige, but after months without going to a movie theater, I get it. Some films need to be seen in a theater not due to the sound or picture quality, but because it forces you to be in the moment.

If you are sitting at home, between cars outside, family, friends, your phone, and your ability to pause what you’re watching, there are more liabilities than advantages. Heck, the only real advantage, to me, is picking when you start the movie and subtitles. Outside of that, this whole “PVOD” isn’t something I want to go away, for it creates access to films like Antebellum, but it also feels like a new way to not truly invest in films that aren’t seen as potential blockbusters.

Personal thoughts aside, I find it interesting how the press materials push the idea that Veronica and Eden aren’t the same people. Are they connected beyond the same actress playing them? Maybe, but it isn’t made clear whether or not Eden is Veronica’s ancestor. There are hints that Veronica is meant to represent all that has come from the struggles of the past to allow her splendor, but there remains the need to ask what role Eden plays beyond an unfortunate reminder?

Granted, people who don’t know their past are likely to repeat it, or allow the circumstances that allowed it to return, but as much as you feel the need to recognize movies are more accessible to some than books, it’s hard to not grow tired of Black horror. At least with it primarily being structured in the horrors of racism. Especially with this idea that it’ll open audiences’ eyes in some way as if those who watch arent’ the choir to the movie’s proverbial preacher.


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