“We’re expected to be seen, not heard,” Janelle Monáe says in the brand-new trailer for the upcoming historical horror film Antebellum. “But we are the future. Our time is now.”
Her character’s statement hints at the hellish developments to come: Her dreams of the future are undercut by the nightmares of the past.
The film, from directors Gerard Bush and Christoper Renz, seems to transport Monáe’s character, a successful author, from a modern-day metropolis back to the slavery of the Antebellum period. Like many a classic horror movie, it looks to mix social commentary with jump scares.
“What if fate chose you to save us from our past?” asks the trailer’s tagline.
The brief snippets of scenes play up a clash of new and old — the high-minded ideals of today, constantly undercut by the lingering ghosts of American history. It recalls the William Faulkner quote,”The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
Visibility has been a core part of Monáe’s film career, which she began after a thriving career in music. For her Oscars opening last month, she paid tribute to a few films that weren’t nominated for anything — including Us, Queen & Slim, and Midsommar.
Monáe said she was “so proud to stand here as a black, queer artist” and pointedly celebrated “all the women who directed phenomenal films.” She was highlighting the fact that only one female-directed film, Greta Gerwig’s Little Women, was nominated for Best Picture.
Besides Monáe, Antebellum stars Marque Richardson II, Eric Lange, Jack Huston, Kiersey Clemons, Tongayi Chirisa, Gabourey Sidibe, Rob Aramayo, Lily Cowles, and Jena Malone.
Its producers include Sean McKittrick, who also produced Get Out and Us.
Antebellum, starring Janelle Monáe and written directed by Gerard Bush and Christoper Renz, is in theaters April 24. Photo credit: Matt Kennedy. Courtesy of Lionsgate.