Janelle Monáe on new horror film Antebellum: “There is nothing more horrific than what happened to Black people”

The film explores the issues of both Chattel slavery and 21st century racism through a horror movie lens.

Janelle Monae Antebellum

Hidden Figures star Janelle Monáe takes the lead in a new horror film, Antebellum, which arrives in the UK on Sky Cinema and NOW this week.

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The film explores the issues of both Chattel slavery and 21st century racism through a horror movie lens, and according to its star the genre is a very appropriate fit for the subject matter.

Speaking to RadioTimes.com and other press, Monáe said, “I think in terms of telling stories centred around Black voices, when you think about horror, there is nothing more horrific than what happened to Black people.

“The fact that we were stolen and forced to live in America. The fact that they stole doctors, they stole lawyers, they stole writers, they stole artists.

“It’s horrific, in every sense of the word, ‘horror’. That is one of the most horrific acts that has happened in history and it’s still happening today in many different ways in many different forms.”

Due to the nature of the subject matter, the film can be an incredibly tough and gruelling watch – with numerous scenes of extreme violence – and Monáe says that while there were moments where she questioned the extent of violence shown on screen, ultimately it would be impossible to tell the story without including these scenes.

“I think for me there’s no way to depict the horror of slavery without showing the violence – that is what happened, those are true events,” she said. “And there were worse that happened that we didn’t know about.”

The star admitted though that she can completely understand how the scenes might be a bit too much for some viewers, adding, “I think I will always say if you were triggered by this, and especially if you’re a Black woman, then take the time that you need and step away.”

In the film, Monáe’s character attempts to engineer an escape from the plantation where she and her fellow slaves have been enslaved, but speaking about the themes included in the film she discussed how the burden of addressing systemic racism in our society should not fall to Black women.

“I think this whole concept of ‘Black women will be our saviours’, ‘Black women will save the day’, ‘Black women are going to save the country’, ‘Black women are superheroes’ is wrong,” she explained.

“Black women should not have to carry the burden of dismantling systemic racism and white supremacy on their backs.

“What I do in this film, I don’t want Black women to have to experience that at any point in time or life, and my hope is that Black women will get peace.

“I wanted peace in those moments of the shots that I was doing that were intense. I was like, why do I have to go through this? Why did my ancestors have to go through this? We shouldn’t have to do it in the future and we should not have to do it now.”

Antebellum is released on Sky Cinema and NOW TV on Friday 2nd April – visit our Movies hub for all the latest news.

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