Janelle Monáe stars in the trailer for the mysterious upcoming horror movie, Antebellum. The film is being released by Lionsgate and marks the feature debut for writer-directors Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz, following their previous efforts on such video shorts as Kill Jay-Z and 17 Seventeen. Story-wise, Antebellum revolves around Veronica Henley (Monáe), a popular author who finds herself trapped in a "horrifying reality" and is forced to unravel the truth behind this "mind-bending mystery".
Additional plot details are being kept under lock and key for the time being, but it's been confirmed the movie hales from Get Out, BlacKkKlansman, and Us producer Sean McKittrick, as well as fellow Get Out and BlacKkKlansman producer Raymond Mansfield. Unsurprisingly, the marketing for Antebellum is banking heavily on its connection to both Jordan Peele's Oscar-winning Get Out and Us, and suggests the film deals with issues of racism (specifically, the legacy of slavery) through the lens of horror, in ways both similar to and very different from the former.
The teaser trailer for Antebellum dropped online this morning, and is expected to begin playing in theaters with select films this weekend. You can check it out in the space below, along with the teaser poster.
Much like its logline, the teaser for Antebellum plays things pretty close to the vest and is deliberately vague about the movie's plot. Judging by the footage, however, Monáe's character seems to find herself being literally haunted by the specter of slavery, whether it's in the form of a creepy, ghostly little white girl who keeps showing up around her, or by having actual visions of herself on a plantation in the Antebellum South. The majority of the teaser trailer is focused on Monáe, but it does offer a quick glimpse at some of her costars in the film, which include Gabourey Sidibe (American Horror Story) and Kiersey Clemons (who, like Monáe, is coming off her role in Disney's live-action Lady and the Tramp).
As haunting and surreal as the Antebellum teaser trailer is, the film does risk coming off as exploitive in the way it combines hackneyed supernatural horror tropes (like jump scares and spooky ghost girls) with the real-world horrors of slavery. If it's handled with sensitivity, of course, the movie could alternatively make for a disturbingly timely allegory about the lasting impact of slavery and how the repercussions of America's original sin continue to resonate in the present-day. Lionsgate has scheduled Antebellum to hit theaters in late April, so it may try to generate more hype for the movie by premiering it at SXSW a month earlier. If so, horror buffs will find out ahead of time whether this one is a must-see or not.