Empathy, Inc – USA, 2018 – reviews

‘Walk a mile in someone else’

Empathy, Inc is a 2018 science-fiction thriller feature film about an investor in a VR startup who discovers that the reality the company provides isn’t virtual.

Directed by Yedidya Gorsetman from a screenplay written by Mark Leidner, the Rigul Films production stars Zack Robidas, Kathy Searle, Jay Klaitz and Eric Berryman.

Plot:

Venture capitalist Joel’s latest multimillion-dollar deal go up in smoke, and he and his actress wife Jessica are forced to move in with her parents and start from scratch.

At the lowest and most desperate moment in his life, Joel meets old friend Nicolaus and his business partner Lester, who are seeking investors in a new technology known as XVR—Xtreme Virtual Reality—from their company Empathy, Inc., which is said to offer the most realistic and moving experiences for users by placing them in the lives of the less fortunate.

Joel gets the startup its funds but soon discovers that the tech’s creators have far more sinister uses in store for their creation and that the reality it provides its customers isn’t virtual…

Reviews [click links to read more]:

” …a smart, focused script, excellent performances, and solid direction that’s confident enough to let the material come forward and not dress it up with a bunch of unnecessary style.” Patrick Bromley, Bloody Disgusting

It feels ripe for a Black Mirror episode, but uses its extended runtime to encapsulate a world that desperately needs a little empathy in it. The idea of monetizing that feeling is inherently interesting, and it’s thrilling to watch someone run with it in the ways that Empathy, Inc. does.” Christopher Cross, Goomba Stomp

“You might be tempted to quibble with the low-tech trappings of such advanced technology – the “body swap” chairs are clearly repurposed dental chairs, the helmets amusingly clunky, the computer graphics 1980s-rudimentary – but that would disrespect the modest budget and DIY aesthetic of indie filmmaking. It all works, and that’s all that matters.” Tin Ear Tom, Gourmet Horror

“Gorsetman and Leidner offer up a decidedly dark rendering of human nature, but they still allow for the possibility of redemption. This is an ironic film, but there is a constructive point to it all. It also presents some smart, borderline-analog science fiction. Recommended for fans of ultra-indie sf…” Joe Bendel, J.B. Spins

“As smart as the script is, and as beautiful as the movie itself is, none of it would work without the performances to bring it all together. And in the three leads, the director has found a wonderful group of actors who take the challenging expectations of the script and deliver some of the best performances I’ve seen this year.” Morbidly Beautiful

“The concept of Empathy, Inc. is brilliant, and Gorsetman has a strong sense of storytelling, even if the film does kind of write itself into a corner or two in the increasingly crazy final act.” Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com

Release:

Dark Star Pictures will release Empathy Inc. in North American cinemas on September 13, 2019, and on VOD on September 24, 2019.

Cast and characters:

  • Zack Robidas … Joel
  • Kathy Searle … Jessica
  • Jay Klaitz … Lester
  • Eric Berryman … Nicolaus
  • AJ Cedeno … Sonny
  • Charmaine Reedy … Vicky
  • Fenton Lawless … Ward
  • Anthony Mangano … Officer Cortona
  • Karen Lynn Gorney … Miss Miriam
  • Brandon Engman … Punk
  • Tom Kemnitz Jr. … Craig
  • Trip Rockafellow … Old Man
  • Ben Scheiner … Homeless Man (scenes deleted)
  • Selima Smith-Dell … Barista

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