The film starts on what appears to be
an 1800’s era antebellum plantation.
Confederate troops led by a man named, Jasper,
bring in a few runaway slaves. One of them, Amara,
runs away again in terror after watching the
other men strap a device to another slave, Eli.
Jasper chases after Amara on horseback and brings
her down by lassoing a noose around her neck.
She begs to be killed instead
of returned to the antebellum,
and Jasper obliges her by
shooting her in the head.
One of the captured women, Eden, is brought
into the home of her owner, the Confederate
general known only as “Him”. He beats Eden and
orders her to say her name. When she cannot,
Him grabs a branding iron
and burns it into her back,
causing her to scream in agony
before weakly crying out her name.
Six weeks later,
a new group of black people are brought in to
the plantation. Jasper orders the group to not
speak unless they are given permission. Jasper’s
wife, Elizabeth, brings her daughter to pick one
of the women in the group, whom the little girl
named Julia. When Eden takes Julia with her,
she asks Eden where they are and what is
happening, but Eden tells her to keep quiet.
can escape again, but Eden appears to have given
up hope. She walks carefully across the floor
to see which boards do not make noises when
stepped on. Julia then goes to her home, where
she seems to already know who Eden really is.
She wants to try and escape
as well, as she is pregnant,
but Eden shows her the branding scar to show that
it is better not to anger the people in charge.
Julia expresses disappointment in
Eden, saying she is not a leader.
The slaves are forced to work during
a gathering of Him and his troops,
where he boasts about preserving
their way of life for the future.
Two young soldiers, Purcell and Daniel, observe
Julia, and Daniel expresses attraction toward her.
Purcell encourages him to speak to her, and
Jasper comes in and orders Julia to wait in
Daniel’s cabin. When Daniel goes to find
her later, Julia tries to appeal to what
she thinks is his innocent nature since he
appeared to be kinder than the other men,
but he proves to be just as terrible
when he strikes Julia for speaking to him
without permission. He kicks her
in the stomach before leaving.
The next day on the plantation,
Julia suffers a miscarriage. She cries out in
pain and distress, and Eden goes to help her.
Jasper attempts to antagonize them, but Eli
keeps him back briefly by calling him a cracker.
After letting Eden help Julia,
Jasper confronts Eli over the matter,
with the other soldiers getting
ready to fire if they need to,
but he instead sends Eli to
clean out the shed. There,
he finds the burnt remains of Amara, which
he recognizes from her cross necklace.
Eli breaks down.
That night, Eden tries to sleep. She starts
to hear what sounds like a cell phone ringing.
She then appears to wake up from what seemed
like a bad dream. Here, she is an author and
activist named Veronica Henley, married to Nick
(Marque Richardson) with a daughter, Kennedi.
Veronica is well noted for speaking out
against the treatment of black Americans,
causing her to butt heads with conservative
pundits. As she is preparing for an upcoming trip,
she sits to have a video conference with another
woman – it’s Elizabeth. She uses condescendingly
racist dialogue while discussing Veronica’s
book and its themes. Elizabeth also describes
herself as a “talent scout” while noticing
Kennedi, which makes Veronica uncomfortable.
After going off on her trip,
Veronica meets up with one of her best friends,
Dawn, as she visits Veronica’s hotel room.
She expresses to Dawn some of her frustrations
and insecurities with her home life.
After Dawn leaves, a mysterious man arrives
to bring Veronica flowers but won’t say who
they are from. Based on the note that’s
left, she assumes they’re from Nick.
Veronica steps out of her room and
runs into her other close friend Sarah,
who is joining her and Dawn later that
night for dinner and drinks. Meanwhile,
Elizabeth sneaks into Veronica’s
room, tries on her lipstick,
and walks around the room to observe
before turning the tag on her door
so she won’t get turndown service. Veronica
then attends a conference where she speaks
before an audience of black women, all of
whom are moved and inspired by her words.
As she goes back up to her room, the girl
that appeared to be Elizabeth’s daughter
is in the elevator with her and creepily tells
her she shouldn’t speak unless given permission,
but Veronica thinks it’s just a game.
Veronica later joins Dawn and Sarah.
On the ride to the restaurant, Veronica
talks to Nick and thanks him for the flowers,
but he says it must have been a fan.
Dawn is abrasive toward the staff
since she demands the best table and wine.
During the night, an unseen man (implied to be
Jasper) watches the women all night until he sends
a vodka cranberry to Dawn. He then approaches her
personally to compliment her, and while flattered,
she takes the time to critique his attempt,
since she thinks that drink pales in comparison
to the wine they are celebrating with, but
she gives the man her number just in case.
The ladies then prepare to part ways,
with Veronica heading into an Uber.
Midway through the trip, Veronica gets
a call from a woman who says she is her
driver waiting outside the restaurant, but
she thinks there’s a mistake. Veronica then
looks at the driver to see that it’s Elizabeth.
Jasper then appears from behind her to grab her.
Veronica struggles to break free,
but he ultimately knocks her out.
Veronica wakes up back on the plantation,
where she is still hearing the phone ring.
Outside, Him – actually Senator Blake Denton –
answers the phone and speaks to someone over how
Nick has been all over the news with Kennedi
searching for Veronica, and he promises to
take care of it. Veronica pretends to be asleep
while Denton says he won’t let
anyone take her away from him.
The next day, Veronica finds
that Julia has hung herself.
In her despair, she decides that tonight
will be the night that they escape.
She waits until Denton has fallen asleep,
and she manages to sneak outside quietly.
Eli finds her and helps her get
the cell phone to call for help.
They try to make it to the cabin to get a signal,
but Purcell and Daniel are out after drinking,
forcing the other two to hide and drop the phone.
Daniel picks it up, and after Purcell leaves,
he stops to urinate. Eli cracks him in the face
and leaves Daniel to choke on his blood while they
get the phone. They try to make it to the cabin,
but Denton attacks the two of them. A fight ensues
with Eli hitting Denton to keep him off Veronica,
but Denton kills Eli with a hatchet. Veronica hits
Denton with a tea kettle before getting his phone.
Denton steps out, but Veronica
stabs him in the gut with a bayonet.
She unlocks his phone and manages to
call Nick and let him know she is alive,
and she sends him a location
pin to give to the police.
Veronica then goes to Eli’s body and addresses
him by his real name, Professor Tarasai.
Veronica rolls Denton into a confederate
flag and brings him to the shed.
He weakly tells her that there
will still be more like them,
but she scoffs at him. As she goes to get a torch,
Jasper finds her, but she tells him that Denton is
hurt. Jasper and another guard run into the shed,
where Veronica locks them in there and sets the
logs on fire to burn all three of them to death.
She then rides on horseback as the other
soldiers give chase through the woods.
After losing most of them, Elizabeth
pursues Veronica on her horse.
She taunts Veronica and states that Denton
(who was really her father) personally picked
Veronica because she went against his whole
campaign and agenda, while Elizabeth picked
everyone else herself. Veronica lassoes a noose
around Elizabeth’s neck, but Elizabeth slashes at
Veronica multiple times until Veronica gains
the upper hand and beats Elizabeth’s face.
Veronica then rides the horse
while pulling Elizabeth until
she slams her head against a
statue, breaking her neck.
Veronica continues to ride as the sun rises,
and the soldiers continue their re-enacting.
She rides outside the gates of the plantation,
where it’s revealed that Antebellum
is a Civil War re-enactment park.
Veronica rides out to find other people, just as
the police arrive, and she appears relieved. The
police and feds rescue the kidnapped people
and bulldoze Antebellum to the ground.