This past weekend, technology got ugly with Leigh Whannell’s Upgrade. Harking back to films like RoboCop, the film takes futuristic tech and put a crooked, broken, and ugly spin on it. More in tune with the festival hit Escape from Tomorrow and “Twilight Zone”, Bloody Disgusting is excited to share the first trailer for the micro-indie Empathy, Inc., which will have its World Premiere at Cinepocalypse on June 24, 2018, right here in Chicago.
Directed by Yedidya Gorsetman, the film follows an investor in a VR startup who discovers that the reality the company provides isn’t virtual:
“In this twisted, sometimes-brutal, black-and-white work from director Yedidya Gorsetman, hotshot venture capitalist Joel (Zack Robidas) has a multimillion-dollar deal go up in smoke, and he and his actress wife Jessica (Kathy Searle) 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 (Eric Berryman) and his business partner Lester (Jay Klaitz), 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.”
Empathy, Inc. is the second film by the three-person filmmaking team of Yedidya Gorsetman (director), Mark Leidner (writer), and Josh Itzkowitz (producer). It began in 2016 as a concept for a rise-and-fall capitalist fable in which an ambitious entrepreneur gains everything only to lose his soul.
Shot in and around New York City in the winter of 2017, the filmmakers used the grim urban setting and high-contrast black-and-white cinematography to imbue Empathy, Inc. with an aesthetic that is both dystopian and nostalgic—echoing the black-and-white noir cinema of the ’40s and ’50s as well as the pre-CGI golden era of sci-fi in the ’80s and ’90s.
By blending an old-fashioned look with a story about technology run amok, the filmmakers hope to reinvent what audiences have come to expect from a dystopian thriller. Here’s the first official trailer to go along with the festival one-sheet.