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Empathy Inc. - Movie Review

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Empathy, Inc.

Damn.  Who hasn’t been flat broke before?  I dare say every single one of us has, at some point in our adult lives, been without money before.  In a way, the struggle humanizes us; makes us a bit more responsible.  Hopefully, it doesn’t dehumanize us as we, through the struggle presented before us, somehow manage to find a way to bounce back. 

But what if the bounce back isn’t exactly what it presents itself to be?  And what if lessons aren’t learned?  Even when the reality seems so damn FOR SURE, shit still happens and, if the fates play us out like the lead character in Empathy Inc., it’s possible we won’t even know the danger we are in until it is too late.

"fires up your imagination and then scares the pants right off of you with its far-reaching consequences"


Answering these questions is where an independent feature film like Empathy Inc., directed by Yedidya Gorsetman and written by Mark Leidner, can really earn its stripes.  This black-and-white feature is blunt and brutal science fiction with no holds barred.  Prepare to get weird. 

Trust me, Empathy Inc. is especially the film to haunt your skull for days on end thanks to its topics and its treatment of its main character who discovers that virtual reality can be murder on the soul. 

As the film begins, fast-talker Joel (Zack Robidas) is having a very bad no good day.  Knee deep in the hoopla surrounding Silicon Valley, the tech company he has been going to bat for (as its main financer) is discovered to be a complete and total bust.  Built on false data, the company he is involved in goes belly up.  With nowhere else to turn, he and his wife, Jessica (Kasthy Searle), are forced to leave the town and move in with her super conservative and judgmental mother (Charmaine Reedy) and father (Fenton Lawless) in order to reboot and start again.

Unfortunately, Joel hasn’t learned much of a lessen when it comes to smartly investing in start-up ventures.  When an old friend, Nicolaus (Eric Berryman), approaches him with a product that inventor Lester (Jay Klaitz) has programmed, Joel just can’t resist the gamble.  But he’s learned to at least check out the product and so his journey into XVR begins.

XVR lets the wealthy experience poverty; the depressed experience total abandonment, and so on.  It’s supposed to heal the country by allowing people to slip into other lives and see how the other half lives.  These scenes inside the machine are smartly directed and add a sense of confusion and dread to the overall movie. 

Once inside, Joel sees how empathy works.  He immediately makes changes in how he talks to other people, being kinder and more understanding.  Of course, he is still digging for gold; his targets this time are his wife’s parents.  If he can get them to invest in XVR with their retirement and their savings, then he can see how XVR can change the country.Empathy, Inc.

But there are risks to everything.  EVERYTHING.  This includes XVR and Joel’s involvement with the invention.  The consequences are damn shocking and so too are the methods of the inventor/programmer responsible for the machine. 

Operating like an episode of Twilight Zone, Empathy Inc. fires up your imagination and then scares the pants right off of you with its far-reaching consequences.  This is solid science fiction with a solid pay-off that will have you revisiting this film for all the right reasons.

Empathy Inc. is produced by Dark Star Pictures.  It is now in theaters in select cities and will be available everywhere on VOD September 24.

5/5 stars

Empathy, Inc.

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor:
Available on Blu-ray

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Empathy, Inc.

MPAA Rating: Unrated.
Runtime:
97 mins
Director
: Yedidya Gorsetman
Writer:
Mark Leidner
Cast:
Zack Robidas, Kathy Searle, Jay Klaitz
Genre
: Sci-fi | thriller
Tagline:
WARNING: Being someone else may result in dizziness, nausea, flashbacks, hallucinations, and permanent loss of self. Enjoy responsibly.
Memorable Movie Quote: "If you had the inside track on the next big thing, how much do you think you could scrape together?"
Theatrical Distributor:
Dark Star Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
September 13, 2019
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
No details available.
Synopsis: Yedidya Gorsetman’s sci-fi thriller tells of an investor in a VR startup discovers that the reality the company provides isn’t virtual.

Empathy, Inc.

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