Is Antebellum based on a true story? Let’s consider the inspiration behind the 2020 movie starring Janelle Monáe, now available on Sky Cinema.

Back when the trailers dropped for Antebellum, many audiences were anticipating a horror film dealing with themes of race and slavery.

However, the film audiences received when it initially released in September 2020 arguably wasn’t a horror movie at all. It certainly incorporates elements which horrify, but the genre elements teased in the trailer came across rather differently in the final film.

Written and directed by Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz, the project serves as the pair’s directorial feature debut and stars Janelle Monáe in the central role of Veronica Henley/Eden. She finds herself trapped by Confederate soldiers at a Southern slave plantation, but nothing is as it seems.

Now, let’s consider this… is Antebellum based on a true story?

still from Antebellum, QC Entertainment, IMDb

Sky Cinema: Is Antebellum based on a true story?

  • No, Antebellum is not based on a true story and was actually inspired by a dream that one of the filmmakers had.

The Cinemaholic highlights that Gerard Bush dreamt the film’s plot following his father’s passing and he has spoken up about the experience:

“I’ve never thought of myself as a New Age person. But this felt really up close and intimate, it felt ancestral. I’m categorizing it as a nightmare because I was asleep and I was in a dream state, but it felt like I was receiving.”

After the dream he quickly got to writing what he had felt and he and Christopher Renz then adapted the experience into a short story. In turn, this was transformed into the screenplay for Antebellum.

Antebellum (2020): Ending explained

WARNING: SPOILERS FOR THE ENDING OF ANTEBELLUM

If you were somebody who saw trailers for Antebellum, then perhaps you were expecting some sort of sci-fi or supernatural element to the plot of the film.

In one of the trailers, a shot of a plane appears as though it is glitching, suggesting that there could be a simulation element to the narrative, or perhaps even time-travel. Additionally, the way the young girl in the elevator was used in the trailers teased a potential horror element.

However, it’s eventually revealed that Veronica was kidnapped and made to be part of a Civil War reenactment park called Antebellum. The park was used to recreate scenes of slavery with real and horrific consequences for those abducted.

In the final act, Elizabeth (played by Jena Malone) explains that she handpicked every victim apart from Veronica; a video-call alludes to this earlier in the film, when Elizabeth is described as something of a “headhunter”.

It’s addressed that she was selected because Elizabeth’s father considered her attack on systemic racism a threat.

Again, it’s suggested that this was also the case for other victims, as when Eli is killed, Veronica addresses him as “professor”. So, perhaps Antebellum began targeting those who were respected academics or actively campaigning for social change and racial equality.

Janelle Monáe on Antebellum

Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Janelle opened up about her experiences working on the film:

“I brought all of my ancestors home with me. This is a project that is so of the times, and it was not going to be a yes for me because 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. And we were filming most of the stuff at night on a plantation, and I felt everything.”

She added: “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.”

Antebellum is now streaming on Sky Cinema.

In other news, After Life season 3 has begun filming.