‘The Antenna’ Review – BFI London Film Festival 2019

Milo Garner meets Orçun Behram’s horror debut, The Antenna, at BFI LFF 2019.

I met The Antenna at a party and he wouldn’t shut the fuck up. I was in the kitchen when he approached me, and initially, I’ll say it, I wasn’t unimpressed. He had a sort of stylish way about him. Not exactly well-dressed, no, but he’d thought it through. Nearly postmodern, angular, almost smart but not quite. He spoke to me first – of course he would, I would later think – something about an anecdote he’d heard about a man who fell off the roof of a tower block. The whole thing was very bizarre, very deadpan.

The music was quiet at this point – someone had put on one of Aphex Twin’s slow tunes – and The Antenna seemed to be in his element, talking in that kind of husky whisper that suits certain men. But soon after, things started to devolve. I wasn’t entirely sure what he was drinking – for some reason he’d poured whatever beer it was into a clear tumbler – but he had told me it was a lot like Kronenbourg. But not quite. Watered down maybe? Or, as I later came to suspect, his own imitation brew. He offered it to me enough, assuming – for a reason quite beyond me – that it’d be in some way to my taste. And sure, I do like Kronenbourg. I’d go so far as to say I really like Kronenbourg, in the right situation. But this diluted swill only got worse the closer I got to the dregs. And The Antenna seemed intent on not letting me leave the kitchen, that much seemed clear.

After telling me about the man who fell off the roof he segued – quite incoherently, I should add – into what would become an endless rant about television. Nothing particular, mind, just that TV was bad, and rotting our brains, and whatever the fuck else cliché you could pull out of a ’90s WhiteDot screed. He grabbed my shoulder emphatically more than once, only to let go with a theatrical raising of both arms at some sort of climatic ‘revelation’. I was meant to be wowed. I was not wowed.

Eventually, someone else was pulled into his gust of garrulous vapidity. The music had by this point degraded to an assault of ’80s pop hits. This girl, the new arrival, did not allow me the quick exit I was hoping for. Instead I was caught in a strange crossfire of The Antenna hitting on her, all the while keeping up his desperately trite narrative of TV-brain-rot with me. This would result in lengthy asides (during which the emphatic shoulder grab would reappear) where he would try and amuse her with what I assume were his best recollections of various true crime headlines. None of them were very entertaining, and in all honesty, I quite wished he could get to the end of his tirade sooner rather than later. The girl did leave, finally (what I’d do for that confidence, lady), but only after she and The Antenna shared a good minute or two of silent eye contact.

‘Dancing in the Moonlight’ was playing. His hand gripped my shoulder tightly. Christ. It was a little before this that his bullshit had outdone itself. He had begun to tie in a variety of statist conspiracies into his TV narrative – they’re behind it, he said loudly. They’re the ones making sure we all have a working set, he said even more loudly. His endgame was a kind of drone army of TV-infected slaves doing the government’s bidding or something. He even said something about them being faceless, but not like in a literary sense – literally faceless. Like in that episode of Doctor Who. On reflection, a lot like that episode of Doctor Who. I asked him if he’s seen it. Stupid question, no TV. That one’s on me. Then something truly inexplicable happened. Rodger Waters’ ‘Amused to Death’ blasted from the next room.

‘Finally, some real music.’ He skipped away, completely satisfied with how that conversation played out.

I finished the remnants of his fake-Kronenbourg and regretted it. What a waste of fucking time.

The Antenna has yet to get himself a UK release date, but you can watch the trailer below:

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