Janelle Monae attends the Chanel show as part of the Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Fall/Winter 2020/2021 on March 03, 2020 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julien Hekimian/Getty Images)

Antebellum: Janelle Monáe explains why new horror movie was so “triggering” to film

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“We were filming most of the stuff at night on a plantation, and I felt everything,” says Janelle Monáe.

We’re big horror fans here at Stylist, particularly when said horror film falls into the ‘social thriller’ category. These genre movies, which have been steadily growing in popularity over the past few years, tell terrifying tales about societal oppression and everyday injustices, focusing on themes such as race, class, and gender.

Some excellent recent examples of this include Get Out, UsThe Hunt, The Purge: Anarchy, and The Invisible Man. And it seems we will soon be adding Janelle Monáe’s Antebellum to the list, too, if the film’s chilling new trailer is anything to go by.

What is the plot of Antebellum?

Veronica Henley (Monáe) is an empowered and successful author. And, as seen in the Antebellum trailer, she has made a point of speaking out against systemic racism.

“We’re expected to be seen, not heard,” she says. “But we are the future. Our time is now.”

Everything goes horribly wrong for Veronica, though, when her abusive ex-husband incapacitates her on the way home one night. In the work of a moment, she’s transported into a twisted reality – one which chillingly resembles an early 19th century plantation – and into the role of a slave. 

However, while many have assumed the film is about time travel, it’s worth noting that the trailer depicts an airplane flying over the plantation. So what’s going on?

It’s up to Veronica to find out. But, desperate to be free of this nightmare, will she be able to navigate the unstable fantasy before her time is up?

Watch the Antebellum trailer for yourself below:

What has Janelle Monáe said about Antebellum?

The actor has admitted she found it “triggering” to film Antebellum at a plantation. Indeed, Monáe has said that the conversations she heard there affected her so much she couldn’t even speak to her family.

“Oh, I brought all of my ancestors home with me,” she said. “And we were filming most of the stuff at night on a plantation, and I felt everything.”

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Monáe reflected that, in hindsight, it was an “unhealthy” experience to put herself through.

“There were just certain conversations even at craft services that if I heard would be triggering for me. I couldn’t even talk to my family sometimes. It was kind of unhealthy when I think back.”

Despite this, though, the actor says that she is incredibly proud of what she has achieved on the film.

“This is a project that is so of the times,” she added. “I knew the responsibility and the weight of it, and I knew what this character was going to have to go through physically and emotionally.”

Who stars in Antebellum?

As well as Janelle Monáe, the horror film boasts the talents of Marque Richardson II, Eric Lang, Jack Huston, Kiersey Clemons, Tongayi Chirisa, Gabourey Sidibe, Rob Aramayo, Lily Cowles, and Jena Malone.

Who is the director of Antebellum?

Antebellum comes from the producers of Get Out and Us and is directed by Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz, also known as the team of Bush+Renz.

When will Antebellum be released in cinemas?

Antebellum was originally supposed to arrive in April, but the coronavirus nixed that idea. Boo, hiss. 

Now, the movie is aiming to open in cinemas on 21 August 2020. 

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

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