'The Antenna' - Indie Film Review

The Antenna

Written and Directed by Orcun Behram
Ihsan Onal as Mehmet
Gul Arici as Yasemin
Enis Yildiz as Firat
Elif Cakman as Cemile
Levent Unsal as Cihan

The Antenna is a story about a dystopian Turkey where the government tries to control and manipulate society. The way they control the society is by installing TV antennas to homes throughout the country. Set in a crumbling apartment building that is owned by by Cihan (Levent Unsal) and superintendent Mehmet (Ihsal Onal). The latter has to supervise the installation of the new antenna. That is, until the installer falls from the rooftop and dies. After that, things start getting very strange as a new broadcast called The Midnight Bulletin starts to broadcast at midnight. The viewers are pretty much being hypnotized. With the mystery of the black ooze that possesses them once they touch it, everyone starts killing each other. This film has the feel of 2009’s The Signal and a vibe comparable to Dark City and Jacob’s Ladder. As you continue reading this review, be aware that it may be mildly spoilery.

The film opens with  great acting. Mehmet is supervising the TV antenna installer guy, that is until after he installs the antenna and stumbles on a few bricks and falls out of the building. I understand how the government tries to control the society, hypnotizing them by broadcasting this signal called The Midnight Bulletin. But what is this black ooze that comes out of nowhere invading the building? Sometimes we do not need an explanation of where things come from. In Night of the Living Dead, we do not know where those zombies come from and why they are there, but the characters dealing with the situation get us investedIn The Antenna, the black ooze seems to be the primary cost of what is going on instead of The Midnight Bulletin.

Act 1 feels well-paced, but after turning point, the start of act 2 feels flat. It builds the character chemistry, but in the end, we do not see any point because they are killed by the black ooze. And this primary story is supposed to be the antenna that broadcast signal throughout the country in order to control the society? Sure, we have that Dark City vibe. The difference is that, in Dark City, humans are used as a testing ground to control minds. I felt like the government was using the black ooze to possess and control people, which is proven by Firat (Enis Yildiz), who eats that steak infected by the black ooze. His behavior changes over time, with a black vein coming out of his body and starting to kill his wife and daughter. But what is the connection between the black ooze and The Midnight Bulletin? If the government installs all the antennas throughout the country to hypnotize them and control them, then why is the black ooze there if it actually also controls and possesses people?

The midpoint of this film was great as Aysel (Isil Zeynep) is hypnotized by the commercial and goes to take a bath. But he slips and dies inside the bathtub with the water full of black ooze. The film falls flat again as they keep building the characters without any goal as they die. Sure, movie deaths can be entertaining, but they do not put any fight. The story of Firat’s family is lot more intriguing than Yusuf’s family (Toprak Mert Yadigar). They die as they got shocked by the electric black ooze. The suspense is there. The building of the suspense is great on each scene, but there is no catch in the end of every scene, so there is no pay-off. We were guessing, what was going to happen, but nothing happens. This film feels like it has so much metaphor and symbolism, which is great, but it seems like this is for the Turkey target audience. We see some people with no faces, and that vibe reminds me a lot Jacob’s Ladder, but in that film, the whole environment takes place in a dead man’s dream. Who they are in The Antenna is not being explained and lacks context.

Act 3 picks up everything pretty fast, but it could have been tightened up more. We did not really know what was going on until Mehmet goes to the last room on top and discovers the TV monitors on the wall. Now, we get understand that the government is watching and controlling them. Again, what is the connection to the faceless men? Are they the government, and did the government put the black ooze there? If so, then why did they need to broadcast The Midnight Bulletin to hypnotize them? I am sure that these are just metaphors that some of us did not catch it. Then there is a part where Yasemin (Gul Arici) is running away and hiding from his father Firat, who is trying to kill her after killing her mother. We see her getting up from the stairs, but then once she is at top room and opens it, we see the very first encounter of the faceless man. Then she runs away, going down the stairs, but this time, the whole stairs are in dusty white, with ashes all over. This right here is confusing. Is she in another dimension? The vibe is like the Upside Down in Netflix's Stranger Things, with those ashes coming from all directions.

Another thing that is outstanding in my opinion is the production design in Firat’s living room. It gives you the foreshadowing of what is happening. The square designs on the wall, as well as the square designs behind the TV, parallel when we see plenty of sticky notes on the wall connected by strings on the wall, giving the impression that there is no turning back. The score is amazing. It has a 1980’ vibe and so close to the Stranger Things score. Fantastic.

Overall, this film is very artistic, and the cinematography is well executed. I know I have so many unanswered questions about this film, but that's what makes this film interesting is that it made me want to watch it again and again to analyze it more deeply for meaning and context. If you like to watch something that makes you
question what is happening, and you are eager to find answers by analyzing it and watching it over and over again, then this is your film. I will buy this on Blu-ray so that I can watch it over and over to find my answers. I score this movie 4 out of 5.