Thursday, 29 July 2021

Antebellum (2021)

"A Difficult Film to Review"

After considerable delays due to lockdown (like so many movies), Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz's ANTEBELLUM finally comes to Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Lionsgate UK.

And yes, it *is* a difficult film to review because you can't say much about it without giving away far too much of the plot. I think it's safe to say that the film opens with a lengthy and beautifully filmed tracking shot that sets the scene in a cotton plantation in America's Deep South during the civil war. Slaves work in the fields and confederate soldiers are on hand to keep everything in order and pursue and capture any who try to escape, for whom a terrible punishment awaits. 

It's also fair to say that about forty minutes in the film switches gears abruptly, but as to what exactly is going on and why is all best discovered for yourself. Bear in mind that the film does suffer from an overlong and meandering middle act that makes you wonder what the film is actually supposed to be about, if indeed it's going to be about anything. The film pulls it all back together for the finale where everything is explained, everything fits, but where everything, to be perfectly honest, turns out to be all a bit daft.

And that's the main problem with ANTEBELLUM, which can't quite strike a balance between being a film about serious issues but also wanting to be a bit of Friday night at the movies popcorn-style fun with chases and villainy. The serious issues side is delivered with all the subtlety of repetitive sledgehammer blows (some would say it still needs to be and I'm not necessarily going to argue) while the 'SF anthology TV episode' side isn't handled anywhere near cleverly enough for all of this to work as well as the makers obviously so desperately want it to, leaving ANTEBELLUM as a film you really want to like but ultimately end up being rather frustrated with.

Lionsgate UK's Blu-ray comes with a number of extras. The History in Front of Us is an excellent 67 minute making of with cast and crew interviews (including the two writer-directors); A Hint of Horror: The Clues of Antebellum takes you through various visual signifiers in the film if you didn't spot them; Opening Antebellum is a piece on the filming of the long opening tracking shot; and finally you get eight minutes of deleted scenes. 

Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz's ANTEBELLUM is out on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Download from Lionsgate UK on Monday 2nd August 2021

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