Power is a dangerous thing. In the right hands, it can change the world but put into the wrong hands, power can go the way of that old saying about corrupting absolutely. But what happens when someone has a power that they can’t control? That’s the central question in Matthew Ninaber’s new film TRANSFERENCE.
In TRANSFERENCE, Josh (Jeremy Ninaber) finds himself in an impossible situation when his sister’s psychic powers go out of control. After a failed suicide attempt, Josh takes Emma (Melissa Joy Boerger) to the hospital, but instead of finding the help they need, Emma’s power causes everyone near her to try to commit suicide as well.
Frightened for his sister’s life, and crippled by limited resources, Josh locks his sister up in a hidden cell while he tries to determine his next move. He believes that if they find her they’ll kill her, although we’re never really sure who “they” are. Unfortunately for Josh and Emma, a mysterious man in a motorcycle helmet is already on the hunt, and judging by his bloodlust, he’ll do anything to find them.
This new film from Epic Pictures is a straightforward story that hits all the classic beats of a modern mystery/thriller. It’s clear that Ninaber and co-writers Jennifer Lloyd and Aaron Tomlin have a passion for the genre from the carefully crafted dialogue to the nicely woven storylines.
The cinematography (Ninaber and Brent Tremain) and production design keep things simple with classically framed shots and subdued colors, letting the drama between the characters take center stage. And for good reason, Ninaber’s put together a cast of talented actors who handle the heightened circumstances and the emotions that come with them, with impressive subtlety.
Melissa Joy Boerger does an especially bang-up job as the distraught psychic Emma. This is an incredibly serious film, without a moment of levity, and that can be hard to sustain for actors working on a feature, but Boerger consistently made her scenes both believable and poignant.
But while all of the pieces of this film fit together well, I found myself wanting a bit more when it came to connecting with the characters. I can’t say that I didn’t understand the stakes, but I did find myself wondering if I believed them. Josh thinks that his sister will be harmed if anyone finds out about her powers, but the film didn’t give any indication that was actually true. Never did the film show me evidence to prove or disprove Josh’s position. And regardless of what that evidence revealed, it would have only served to deepen the audience’s relationship with Josh.
While I’m sure it was a deliberate choice to keep this information from the audience, instead of drawing me in, this lack of clear, proven stakes pulled me away from the action and made it harder to care about the characters.
TRANSFERENCE is an icy plunge into a world where even the most innocent can be dangerous, and power can cost you everything, even your freedom. Check it out when you’re in the mood for a chilly trip into the world of the extraordinary. TRANSFERENCE will open in L.A. on March 6th and will be available on VOD March 10th and on Blu-ray March 24th.