Tickled is a riveting investigative documentary which starts with the weird, and quickly descends down a disturbingly dark rabbit hole of shadowy characters, exploitation and abuse of power.
When Kiwi journalist David Farrier stumbled across a short video promoting the alleged sport of ‘Competitive Endurance Tickling’, he thought it would make an ideal puff piece for the nightly news. However, a simple interview enquiry was met with a response so vitriolic and overreacting that it simply demanded further investigation.
Following his journalistic instinct for the “weird and bizarre side of life”, Farrier (and co-director Dylan Reeve) head to LA and stake-out a tickling video shoot, where they discover the frightening control the production company exert over the models. What follows is no laughing matter, as the filmmakers themselves become the target of countless legal threats and bullying by a mysterious organisation.
This is one of those documentaries where the less you know going in, the better, as it delights in its shocking revelations and countless twists. But it is a tale of David (Farrier) vs Goliath, as the filmmakers take a stand against fetishist cyber-bullies with loud mouths and deep pockets.
What could have easily played for giggles as a documentary about the world of tickling fetish, instead serves up a frightening tale about control, abuse of power, and bullying in the age of the internet. Once you’ve finished watching, be sure to follow the continuing story as the subjects of the film confront the filmmakers at screenings in the US.
Consider me tickled.
Tickled will be available in selected Australian cinemas August 18. The film was screened at this year’s Sydney Film Festival and Melbourne International Film Festival.