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Empathy Inc. Shows Us What Can Happen When VR Films Aren’t Virtual

Empathy Inc. 2018

Empathy Inc is a film I can’t stop thinking about. VR in films isn’t a new concept but it certainly is intriguing. I was struck by the premise utilized here and that it’s made in a black and white style. Empathy Inc. was one of my favorite movies to come out of the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival.


VR FILMS WARNING: Being someone else may result in dizziness, nausea, flashbacks, hallucinations, and permanent loss of self. Enjoy Responsibly.

The story centers around Joel, who works within the investment hub and finds himself at the center of a scandal which results in a heavy financial loss. Flying solo and now living with his wife’s parents, he runs into an old friend who lets him in on a virtual reality start-up idea with mysterious tech-guru Lester.

What if the rich could experience a reality where they become the less fortunate? Wouldn’t that make you appreciate what you have?

Empathy Inc. 2018 #empathyinc #brooklynhorrorfilmfestival

Quick Film Information

Director: Yedidya Gorsetman has previously directed a comedy film called Jammed in 2014.

Writer: Mark Leidner wrote Jammed prior to Empathy Inc.

Starring: Zack Robidas (It’s Complicated 2009), Kathy Searle (Gossip Girl 2009), Jay Klaitz (Instinct 2018), AJ Cedeno (The Good Wife 2013) and Eric Berryman The Visit (2007.)

From Rigel Films

Release: Premiered at Cinepocalypse in June 2018 followed by BHFF in October 2018.

Drama | Sci-Fi | Thriller

VR Films aren’t films if they’re real. Empathy Inc trailer

Empathy Inc. Review

Joel is the type of character you love to hate. He casts the perfect shadow to make the barrage of mistakes Empathy Inc. produces in its premise. The kind of guy who’s down on his luck and champing at the bit like a hungry gambler looking for his next payday. I wanted to pick apart his willingness to throw everything he had into the deal that falls into his lap, but he is just so believable in his ineptitude. It all makes perfect sense that Joel believes he is on a winner and will turn everything around.

With few cast members and very sparse set pieces, there is nowhere for this story to hide. It’s the type of story that uses a small snowball of circumstantial unluckiness and slowly rolls it down a hill of looming trouble. You can see the trouble coming from a mile away. But poor Joel is just oblivious to what’s around the corner.

Character-driven narratives are my favorite style of film and I’d much prefer to bite into a great tale when it’s told well. In the second half, there are a few questionable scenes that definitely amounted to small plot holes but they really can be overlooked.

Final Thoughts on VR film, Empathy Inc

Overall, Empathy Inc. is a tidy 96 minute run of perfect pacing and interesting ideas. I found myself thinking about this movie quite a bit this week. I enjoyed the dynamic of the family used as the backdrop for Joels increasingly single-mindedness. The antagonists hide out in a seedy shade that envelops the victims in its wake and shakes out some surprises on its way.

Films and television shows concentrating on technology are coming out en masse, but few maintain my interest like this one did. From the low-budget feel to its downward spiraling crescendo, this is a film I recommend you see if you can.

Empathy, Inc will be available to VOD September 24th 

Theatre will let you take a sneak peek from September 13th if you want to catch it before then.

I give Empathy Inc.

3.5 virtual reality Twilight Zones out of 5

3.5 Skulls out of 5
3.5 Skulls out of 5

INDIE FILM NANCY: Will make you think this film is based on a true story

2020 VIRTUAL LINE UP: Fantasia Film festival first wave.

READ NEXT: Bad Romance – a collection of short films about love from Final Girls Berlin Film Festival 2020.

For a movie just like Empathy Inc. — check out Possessor.
Starring Jennifer Jason Leigh and Christopher Abbott. Written and directed by Brandon Cronenberg, it promises a big-budget and similar storyline.

Empathy Inc. 2018 #empathyinc #brooklynhorrorfilmfestival VR Films from Brooklyn Horror Film Festival.
On the set of EMPATHY, INC., a Rigel Films Production. Photo courtesy of Rigel Films.
VR Films with a twist. Empathy Inc. 2018 #empathyinc #brooklynhorrorfilmfestival
VR Films with a twist. What if it’s not really VR?