The Western world has long been suspicious of Muslim countries and their often-fanatical leaders. Radical Islam and liberal democratic values do not sit hand in hand. Turkey has long been seen as a friendly nation, particularly by the US and UK. One which has been regularly called upon to support ‘the war on terror’ in the region. However, the rise of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has led to a rather more authoritarian, right-wing and corrupt administration. Orcun Behram’s new film, The Antenna, follows this progression down the rabbit hole.
Mehmet (Ihsan Önal) is a downtrodden superintendent in a rundown high-rise apartment block. Taking orders from Cihan (Levent Ünsal), who works for the state, he’s tasked with the installation of a new government-imposed satellite dish. Promoted as part of a new state-of-the-art broadcasting network, its real function is in fact surveillance. However, there’s something altogether more sinister going on.
The Antenna is a dystopian nightmare which leans heavily on the early work of Lynch and Cronenberg. Mixing political allegory with an inexorably creeping terror, the arresting imaginary with portentous sound design create a genuinely uncomfortable and unsettling experience. Whilst Behram’s film will make your skin crawl it does draw-out certain scenes a touch too long. Whilst not entirely successful, The Antenna is an ambitious and imaginative sci-fi thriller.
The Antenna screens again at London Film Festival on 4 October.