Tickled is a strange, Louis Theroux-style documentary (but feature-length, obviously) that came about after the New Zealand journalist David Farrier – who actually looks like Theroux, coincidentally – reported on a series of ‘competitive endurance tickling’ videos he found on the internet. Was this a sport people were taking seriously, or simply part of a harmless fetish scene involving consenting adult males? The story got a fair amount of attention at the time, but shortly thereafter Farrier was on the receiving end of extreme, homophobic insults from the company behind the videos – Jane O’Brien Media – as well as separate, hostile cease-and-desist communications from their lawyers, which only served to further his interest in the makers of the videos and the participants. The film mostly details subsequent trips to America made by Farrier and co-director Dylan Reeve, during which they uncover a bizarre story involving abuse, bullying, identity theft, fraud, deception, thinly-veiled death threats and general insidious behaviour. It’s a technically-straightforward investigative documentary that relies on its fascinating story and the growing disbelief of the filmmakers for forward propulsion, though there’s occasional doorstepping too, which is something I never grow tired of so long as it’s applied to people who deserve it. I found it pretty gripping, and it also makes some salient points about the ease with which poor people can be exploited by the rich.
Directed by: Dylan Reeve, David Farrier.
Starring: David Farrier.
Cinematography: Dominic Fryer.
Editing: Simon Coldrick.
Music: Rodi Kirkcaldy, Florian Zwietnig.
Running Time: 92 minutes.