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Gerard Bush, Christopher Renz
Janelle Monáe, Eric Lange, Jena Malone
Writing Credits:
Gerard Bush, Christopher Renz

Successful author Veronica Henley finds herself trapped in a horrifying reality and must uncover the mind-bending mystery before it's too late.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English Dolby Atmos
Spanish Dolby 5.1
English Descriptive Audio
French Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 105 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 11/3/2020

• “The History in Front of Us” Documentary
• “A Hint of Horror” Featurette
• “Opening Antebellum” Featurette
• 5 Deleted Scenes
• Trailers & Previews


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Antebellum [Blu-Ray] (2020)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 29, 2020)

If ever a movie with racial themes seemed to fit the public zeitgeist, 2020 would be that year, as the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement captured headlines. Into this setting came Antebellum, a horror tale with a twist that reflects these topics.

During the Civil War, a group of slaves tries to escape a Southern plantation. Some die in the attempt, and Eden (Janelle Monáe) finds herself tortured as punishment.

Despite this setback, Eden doesn’t give up hope. She plots to find her way to freedom.

Or does she? Historian and successful author Dr. Veronica Henley (Monáe) wakes from a dream – a dream of Eden and her situation. Does Eden and her life as a slave reside solely in Veronica’s imagination, or does something more sinister exist?

If nothing else, that creates an intriguing slant on the expected tale, one that seems likely to confuse viewers who enter cold. The first 38 minutes of Antebellum commit entirely to the Eden story, so we don’t meet Veronica, husband Nick (Marque Richardson) and daughter Kennedi (London Boyce) until the movie’s second act launches.

From there, it can become tough to discuss the movie’s narrative without the use of spoilers. Suffice it to say that while Acts One and Two seem largely unrelated, they come together in Act Three.

Or I should say that the filmmakers attempt to tie up the Veronica and Eden narratives during the movie’s final third. They don’t do this in a satisfactory manner.

Really, Antebellum acts as a twist with a film built around it. When we get to Act Three, we find a major revelation that seems to form the basis for the flick’s entire existence.

By that I mean Antebellum doesn’t sustain the stories it tells in Acts One and Two well, though the opening third with Eden on the plantation fares better. Sure, these elements come across as well-trodden in the genre of films about slaves, but at least a coherent plot seems to form.

Once we get to Veronica, though, the movie pads its length so it can bide its time before it gets to The Big Twist. Much of Act Two feels like filler, as we dally with fairly inert scenes of Veronica, her friends and family that seem unnecessary.

Granted, Antebellum builds a little of the push toward Act Three during Act Two. I won’t say much, as it’d risk spoilers, but Act Two does tease with flavors that relate to Act One and that will pay off in Act Three.

Nonetheless, Act Two runs a good 15 minutes longer than necessary, as most of the content just plods. Veronica never becomes an especially interesting character, and the story’s dalliances with her friends and family create more questions than they answer.

Once more, I can’t elucidate, as spoilers would emerge. I’ll just say that the Big Twist in Act Three doesn’t make a lot of sense based on what we see of Veronica in Act Two, and the movie fails to explain its basic logistics and logic in a satisfactory manner.

Given its racial and social themes, Antebellum begs for comparisons to Jordan Peele’s hit films Get Out and Us. However, Antebellum owes much more to the M. Night Shyamalan catalog, with one particular film as its model.

Again: spoilers! If I reveal the identity of that Shyamalan flick, it’d tell too much about what to expect from the curveball of Antebellum.

Though even if I did indicate the model for Antebellum, I don’t know how much it’d spoil just because the film doesn’t work even when you go into it unaware of various big events. This ends up as a “high concept” flick in which the tail wags the dog. Expect nothing more than a plot twist with a movie attached.

The Disc Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B/ Bonus B

Antebellum appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The image worked well.

Sharpness appeared strong. Virtually no softness emerged here, so expect a tight, precise presentation. I saw no signs of shimmering or jaggies, and print flaws remained absent.

In terms of palette, Antebellum tended toward standard teal and amber/orange, with an emphasis on the latter tone. These hues showed good representation within stylistic constraints.

Blacks were dark and tight, and shadows seemed smooth. The movie consistently looked solid.

Expect a satisfying affair from the movie’s Dolby Atmos soundtrack, as this became an engulfing mix. Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, the track came with instances of dynamic information, mainly during a few action-oriented sequences. Those popped to life in an exciting fashion.

Much of the flick went with more ambient audio, and those segments succeeded as well. These contributed a good sense of atmosphere and formed an involving sensibility throughout the film, factors that made this a pleasing track.

Audio quality seemed solid. Music was bold and full, and effects followed suit, as those elements appeared accurate and dynamic, with deep, tight bass.

Speech remained natural and without edginess or concerns. Though not action-packed, this became a reasonably broad, involving track.

As we shift to the set’s extras, we start with a two-part documentary called The History in Front Of Us. It fills one hour, seven minutes, six seconds with comments from writers/directors Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz, producers Raymond Mansfield, Lezlie Wills, Sean McKittrick and Zev Foreman, executive producer Alex Scott, art & culture consultant Sanford Biggers, production designer Jeremy Woodward, director of photography Pedro Luque Briozzo, Evergreen Plantation director Jane Boddie, costume designer Mary Zophres, and actors Janelle Monáe, Gabourey Sidibe, Jena Malone, Eric Lange, Jack Huston, Tongayi Chirisa, Kiersey Clemons, and Lily Cowles.

“Front” looks at the project’s origins and development, story/characters, cast and performances, production design and cinematography, sets and locations, costumes, and social issues.

Overall, “Front” provides a good overview of various production choices and domains. At times it leans a little toward praise for those involved, but it still comes with more than enough depth to deliver a satisfying examination of the film.

A Hint of Horror goes for six minutes, 13 seconds and offers remarks from Bush, Renz, Chirisa, Mansfield, Monáe, Biggers, Foreman, Cowles and Malone.

“Hint” looks at Easter eggs and “clues” throughout the movie. While it seems too self-satisfied, it still lets us see some small moments we might miss when we first watch the film.

With Opening Antebellum, we get a four-minute, 46-second featurette that brings notes from Bush and Renz. Here we get details about the film’s complicated opening shot. It becomes a short but informative reel.

Five Deleted Scenes span a total of seven minutes, 59 seconds. All of these would’ve fit into the movie’s first act, as they deal with the Civil War-era portion of the story. They seem fairly unnecessary and wouldn’t have added anything especially useful to the tale.

The disc opens with ads for Knives Out, Anna. and Arkansas. We also find two trailers for Antebellum.

A story that mixes the current political climate with horror from the M. Night Shyamalan school, Antebellum shows the potential to become involving. However, it seems so erratic and ill-developed that it never becomes anything more than an awkward mess. The Blu-ray boasts excellent visuals as well as good audio and a few useful bonus materials. Antebellum exists more as a concept than a well-realized film.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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