EMPATHY, INC. is the latest film from director Yedidya Gorsetman, which saw its World Premiere at the Cinepocalypse Film Festival this past Sunday. The film, which is presented in black and white, takes a unique stab at the world of VR (virtual reality) with horrifying consequences. It stars Zack Robidas (Mozart in the Jungle), Kathy Searle (Baby Mama), Jay Klaitz (Vinyl), and Eric Berryman (Barry).

Venture capitalist Joel (Robidas) has just lost everything after he learned his business partner has screwed the company out of a multi-million deal. Having no other choice, he and his wife Jessica (Searle), an aspiring actress, move back in with her parents to start their lives over from scratch. After an argument breaks out between Joel and his in-laws, he seeks solace at a neighborhood bar where he runs into his old friend, Nicolaus (Berryman), who offers him a business proposition. Nicolaus and his business partner Lester (Klaitz) have created a new VR technology titled XVR – Xtreme Virtual Reality and are looking for investors to get in on the ground floor of their company, Empathy, Inc. Nicolaus promises that this VR technology is unlike anything else on the market as it offers the most realistic experiences for those wanting to know what life is like for the less fortunate. Joel sees the huge potential that this experience has and immediately decides to invest; however, he soon discovers just how dangerous and sinister the creators of this technology truly are.

As someone who has begun to immerse themselves in the world of VR, I was very excited to check out this film. Shot beautifully in black and white, the film conveys a feeling of ominous foreboding and trepidation early on. What I loved most about the film, however, was the story, specifically in how writer Mark Leidner showcased the length wealthy people will go to feel empathy. Even though EMPATHY, INC. is a vastly different film from the gorefest of Hostel, what I loved about Eli Roth’s film was the same thing I loved about EMPATHY – it shows what money can buy if you look hard enough. The film also does a fantastic job of showing how deceptive, dangerous, and vicious people can be, especially when money is involved. Though there are no supernatural monsters in this film, one could argue that some of the main characters do a good enough job of showcasing how horrific humanity can be.

In terms of acting, I think there could have been some improvements, but that may be due to some of the writing and not the talent of the actors. With that said, I enjoyed what each of the characters brought to the table but I found myself being drawn to both Zack Robidas and Jay Klaitz performances. Not only did they both feed off of each other wonderfully, I also think viewers will be able to identify a bit of themselves in each of their characters. Their interaction was definitely the most dynamic within the film, especially after we find out what the VR is being used for, the only downfall being that the other characters were easily forgettable – which is a damn shame.

My only real critique of this film had to do with the ending. As much as I loved the overarching themes that were presented, I felt like the storyline became a bit convoluted towards the end, resulting in a climax that could have been much more impactful. With all that said, there is still a lot to enjoy with this film as it raises some important moral questions that will stay with you long after the film has ended while also making you wonder just how far VR technology could possibly go.

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Shannon is the Founder of Nightmarish Conjurings and a lover of all things horror and haunt related. When she's not obsessively collecting all things "Trick 'R Treat" related, or trying to convince everyone that "Hereditary" is one of the greatest horror films ever made, you can find her designing interiors for commercial restaurants. An avid haunt fan, Shannon spends the entire year visiting haunts and immersive experiences throughout the Southern California area and hopes to one day design her own haunted attraction.
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12 thoughts on “Cinepocalypse Film Festival Review: EMPATHY, INC. (2018)

  1. As a long time fan of the sci-fi genre I would recommend Empathy, Inc., because it delivers in creativity and meaning, connecting futurism to classic genres of crime, noir, and horror. This film explores the hidden desires associated with freedom and lack of responsibility, through the thrilling concept of virtual reality. The audience is left in suspense and excitement, until the very end, when the satisfying and unpredictable conclusion is revealed.

  2. I agree with this article, I really enjoyed Empathy Inc. The tone of the film is different than anything I’ve seen in a while. The black and white gives the film an old-school touch while the concept is something new and exciting. I liked the contrast of those characteristics and it gave the film a unique quality.

  3. I thought that the choice to make the film black and white was really cool and unique for a movie focused so heavily on technology. The coloring, or lack thereof, really gave Empathy, Inc. a dark and ominous feeling that fit perfectly with the tone of the film. I can’t wait for it to come out so everyone else can see it!

  4. I’ve seen a few VR related films lately but this sounds so unique. You mentioned that the movie shows “how horrific humanity can be”, which sounds quite scary but also exciting. I’m looking forward to watching this soon!

  5. A movie like no other, Empathy, Inc, sucks in the audience with its tales of rich and poor, and the unknown dangers of corrupt business endeavors. I especially appreciated how the cinematographer, Darin Quan, chose to incorporate dutch angles and insert shots to let the audience feel the psychological paranoia from the characters. A remarkable cinematic production, Empathy, Inc, is a film I have to recommend

  6. The title of Yedidya Gorsetman’s new sci-fi horror feature, Empathy Inc, is ironic just as it is important. It is a film about empathy itself and how we treat the people around us. Wether we are the wealthy financier, or the ones he swindled, people can be selfish and greedy, and Empathy Inc. explores this with nuance and with disturbing consequences and its a must watch!

  7. Empathy Inc stood out to me after reading its reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. I’m very excited to see the films balance of film noir and modern-day tones. The film releases on VOD 24 of September. Can’t wait!

  8. This movie was truly brilliant, from the exceptional story to the amazing work done by cinematographer Darin Quan. I thought the use of black and white added a mysterious element to the thrilling nature of the film and was done so well I didn’t even notice it wasn’t in color at some points. Overall, it was an awesome thriller that is definitely worth the watch!

  9. I loved the character development in Empathy, Inc. between the film’s two main protagonists, Joel (Zack Robidas) and Jessica (Kathy Searle): a married couple against the corrupt world together. Their heart warming dynamic and loyalty to each other makes this horror film’s storyline even more powerful. The acting in Empathy, Inc. make it a must see movie!

  10. Empathy inc is a crime/horror film noir that kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. With elements of shock and terror throughout the duration of the film, I found myself truly terrified from start to finish. I can’t help but urge fellow horror fans to watch this film now that it’s out on VOD!

  11. I thought director Yedidya Gorsetman really went above and beyond creating his new thriller Empathy Inc. I listened to his interview with Jamie Roxx on Blog Talk Radio and he discussed how this film brings up an ethical debate within its plot. I noticed the topic of morality was highlighted throughout the film and thought that really added a depth that most movies in this genre don’t have. The ethical conflicts along with so many other characteristics make Empathy Inc. worth the watch.

  12. Empathy, Inc. is cinematically well done with its overall black and white film to the unique lighting decisions used to further the eerie feel of the movie. Worth the watch!

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