The Turkish horror film The Antenna, directed by Orçun Behram, is more about creepiness that fright. It is also about a world that is trending toward the insidious control of day to day life.
The film is set in a mildly dystopic Turkey. Mehmet works as the intendant of an apartment building in a remote area. When the film opens, Mehmet makes his way through the empty countryside to get to the apartment building. It is the day that a new antenna is being installed which will provide a new service that allows the government to address all people. There is a special midnight bulletin planned for that night. But not long after the installer goes up to the roof, he falls to his death.
As the day plays out, we meet some of the residents of the building. One of them calls Mehmet to fix the black ooze that is coming into her bathroom. It turns out that tarry substance is getting into everything. Is it somehow connected to the antenna? In time it will become connected to various deaths.
This certainly can be seen as a metaphor for the kind of authoritarian policies of the Turkish government. The black ooze is corruption and invasiveness into our lives and thoughts. The content of the midnight bulletin is just as corrupt as we might expect from a dystopian government. Perhaps some might also see it applicable in other societies as well, including the US, but I suspect that this all works better in Turkey than elsewhere.
When the ooze begins to be overwhelming, Mehmet often finds himself in surreal/nightmarish corridors and rooms. Some people become violent; others are transformed into faceless puppets. All this creates a disturbing, spooky atmosphere. But it is very inconsistent and incohesive. The ooze is never really explained, and it is different things to different people. We’re left without much understanding of what is really happening in this apartment building, and we have no idea if it’s just a local occurrence due to a mistake in the antenna installation or if it is going on all over the country.
If you’re just looking for a creepy evening, The Antenna might be an option. But don’t expect to be fully satisfied at deeper levels.
The Antenna is available on virtual cinema through local arthouses and will soon by on VOD platforms.
Photos courtesy of Dark Star Pictures.