By Madeleine Wall
Hiding from the world behind solitary, mindless work, Mehmet (Ihsan Önal) serves as the superintendent of an anonymous apartment complex. The residents mainly keep to themselves, but as Mehmet settles in for a day where the only thing of note on the agenda is the installation of a new antenna, things rapidly begin to change. A shocking death is the first sign that things are not as they seem, along with the black slime leaking from the installation, which begins to seep its way down towards the building’s inhabitants.
With clear references to Polanski and Cronenberg and a few scares lifted from Instagram’s fondness for facemasks, Orçun Behram’s The Antenna develops a slow-burn creepiness. The black slime destroys all it comes across, getting the people in the building to act out their darker impulses after they stare obediently at the television screen. Behram deliberately withholds information from the audience, instigating terrible events that remain out of focus and silent, so that Mehmet remains relegated to the outside of the world he monitors. As our protagonist slowly discovers what the slime has been doing to the building, he realizes that the infection has spread beyond the now-rotten walls of the building. The implied dangers of propaganda—the result of a diet of uncritically consuming media—are clear, especially with regard to the current political situation in Turkey, though Behram makes an odd choice to make his film about a now archaic form of communications technology. The absence of the internet in this non-period piece is conspicuous, especially since its effects as a means of propaganda and passivity are as insidious and widespread as the black slime he uses as his all-purpose symbol. The Antenna functions as an odd parable, one which may be a bit too late.