TRANSFER begins with a young black man in a white jumpsuit, walking down a hall. He looks athletic and determined. A white man in a uniform follows behind and as they reach a door, the black man waits while the white man opens the security door.
Then we see an elegantly dressed, very old couple watching the black man through various security cameras. A woman behind a desk ticks off his virtues, one of them being that, because he is African, he can better survive the warming climate.
Then we see a young black woman. She too is in a white uniform and appears athletic as well. Both the man and the woman, in their separate rooms, are told over an intercom to remove their clothes. They do so and the woman behind the desk, who is clearly making a sale, asks the couple to notice what good bodies they have. The young people's brains are a near perfect cerebral match for the old couple.
What Dr. Menzel (Jeanette Hain), the woman behind the desk is selling, is Transfers.
In this movie's near future, the ability to transfer your mind to another person will be a fact. Old people no longer have to die, they just need the money to buy a mind transfer.
The people they transfer to, will also not die, but they will spend 20 hours a day with their minds drug suppressed into unconsciousness. During their 4 hour awake period, while their "guests" minds sleep, they will spend in solitary confinement so as not to damage their bodies.
What kind of person would want to be a host?
In TRANSFER, the kind of people who come from war torn, dictatorial or anarchy driven countries, rife with poverty, crime, and starvation. They are assured that, in sacrifice of their bodies, their families will be well provided for. A Transfer costs $1 million per person and ten percent of that goes to the family of the host.
The old couple say they want to think it over. They drive away and as they do, the old woman, Anna (Ingrid Andree), remarks on how creepy the whole ordeal was. It was sickening and she'll have nothing to do with it. Her husband, Hermann (Hans-Michael Rehberg: HAMLET X), asks her to think about it. Hermann loves Anna dearly, and respects her opinion, but she has cancer.
Anna's mind is settled however and they go on about their lives and routine. One day, at the local country club, Hermann is talking to his best friend Otto (Ulrich Voß), who tells him that, while he would never buy a transfer, he has bought stock in the company, the value of which is moving straight up.
Hermann comes home from walking their pet dog to discover Anna collapsed on the bathroom floor. At the hospital, the doctors say her cancer has worsened. Anna only has two months, maybe three left. At her bedside, Hermann tells her that, when she dies, he will take his own life. Anna knows what Hermann wants and tells him, "That's blackmail."
"No," says Hermann. "It's a declaration of love."
Soon Anna and Hermann are back at the Transfer company. They pay their two million and sign the contracts. They have a 90 day money back guarantee during which time their bodies will be in stasis. After that 90 days, refunds are over and their old bodies will be cremated.
The Transfer is simple, but the two young people are very nervous. They meet each other for the first time before going under Transfer. The young woman briefly reaches out to hold the young man's hand.Later, when Hermann wakes, he does so in the body of the young man. He looks at himself in the mirror. Touches his new skin, feels the bones beneath, eats an apple, watches his mouth chew, and laughs.
When Anna wakes in her new body, Hermann is there, smiling at her. Only it's not her Hermann and it's not his smile and there is nothing about this man that she has spent any time loving for the last 50 years. The young man doesn't even have Hermann's voice, only his knowledge. It is his experience with her that brings Anna back to him.
Anna and Hermann return home to find it heavily guarded with security cameras everywhere.
They have a chaperone named Laurin (Mehmet Kurtulus: EQUILIBRIUM) who tells them that the security will only be there for the first 90 days as they adjust to their bodies. It takes 90 days for the host brains to properly rewire themselves to make way for the guest minds. After that, Hermann and Anna, having 20 hours a day with the bodies, will achieve dominance between the two minds.
Near the 20 hour mark, Larin informs them that they will have to go to bed, and Anna and Hermann are surprised to find that, while they were at the hospital, the Transfer company built two solitary confinement cells in their home. Larin tells them that they have to sleep here while their bodies are awake with their hosts. Hermann complies but Anna won't hear of it. She is going to sleep in her own bed.
Hermann has a hideous dream where he lives the life of his host.
Apolain (B.J. Britt: SUTURES, VAMPIRES SUCK) awakes in terror. Though he consented to Transfer, he had no idea what the actual experience would feel like. Finding himself locked in his room, he beats on the door. He was never told that, for the rest of his life, he would be a prisoner for his four hours! He wants to call the deal off!
Sarah (Regine Nehy: LAKEVIEW TERRACE) wakes in a warm, soft bed. The bedroom, though simple in design and decor, is opulent to her eyes. She walks throughout the house, exploring and, as she does, hears the faint voice of Apolain. She goes to his cell and speaks through his door.
Apolain, shouting, suddenly stops when he hears a quiet voice on the other side. The voice tells him that she is the girl who touched his hand just before he went under transfer. He begs to be let out, but she can't. She tells him to calm himself and accept what they've done. The sooner he can do that, the sooner they will let him out, and he and Sarah can spend their few hours together in a very nice house.
So begins the bizarre journey of Anna, Hermann, Sarah, and Apolain.
There have been other movies involving a technology that makes life swaps, perhaps the most chilling being John Frankenheimer's SECONDS. There have been movies involving a technology that allows people's minds to share other bodies, like Peter Moyle's X-CHANGE. But director Damir Lukacevic, running off of a script coauthored by himself and Gabi Blauert from the story by Elia Barceló, creates a stunning masterpiece of emotion and intellectual depth.
TRANSFER is thought provoking and chilling. As a Science Fiction Thriller it excels at exploring the idea of what it means to be human; what it means to be poor and rich; the incomplete point of view that can come from both. It explores race, racism, ageism, love, jealousy, rebellion, acceptance, humanity, and how the fight against injustice is a burden that must be shared by everyone.
Incredibly, TRANSFER pulls this off without any preachy-ness AT ALL! It just tells its damn terrifying story: made all the scarier for its calm approach. It's bad enough to be the victim of a law-breaking criminal. But to be coldly victimized by a government sanctioned institute with the law on its side?
The ending will not only scare you, but TRANSFER will stay with you, for an achingly long time. You'll find yourself having long conversations with anyone else who has seen it, and you might even cry.
5 Shriek Girls.
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