After stumbling upon a bizarre “competitive endurance tickling” video online, wherein young men are paid to be tied up and tickled, reporter David Farrier reaches out to request a story from the company.
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Although straightforward and bland in style, this doc falls squarely in the WTF? category. The tickling fetish is a bit weird, but ok, not passing judgment on a harmless fetish, however when it starts to involve threats, intimidation and harassment of participants lured into it by financial need, then it becomes apparent that this isn't about a tickling fetish. It's about how the rich and powerful abuse their power.
I came to "Tickled" after the Netflix series "Dark Tourist" had already made me a fan of unfailingly polite Kiwi journalist David Farrier, which seems to be the right approach, as I was fully onboard for David's journey down the rabbit hole into the world of competitive tickling. This documentary reminded me of how menacing and uncertain the internet seemed in the mid-90's, when a cloak of anonymity still existed.
From seemingly innocuous, even ridiculous, beginnings, Tickled builds gradually towards a sustained, unbearable tension. Formally straightforward, it traces a relentless trajectory, finally terminating outside the film itself, soon after the premiere of its follow-up short, The Tickle King, in a tragedy that must have spooked the filmmakers badly, bleakly punctuating their excavation of desire, cruelty and shame.
As a doco it doesn't reinvent the wheel but the case-study is fascinating and the anxiety generated is palpable as it takes us well down the rabbit hole ala Theroux into a world of power and egomania. Highly recommended! 4 stars
People are bizarre, people are strange, people are us. I get it: if I had that much money and that much free time, I would invest on my fetishes as well - less the "manipulative bitchness" part. Farrier conducts his movie with newsmaking hand, and it kinda ruins the impact of its ending. With more emotion and a little bit more storytelling skills this could have been Catfish good.
Wow, yeah, I've heard that this movie is deeply weird one but it transcended my expectation drastically. "Tickled" depicts that one's desire (with exuberant wealth) gradually turns into vomittingly malicious & beyond-imagination-ly ginormous system which overrides and exploits many people. Every 5 minutes, I said "What the F**k." Enthralling documentary with suprisises making me dread.
A brave piece of doc filmmaking that's been slapped with lawsuits at every screening yet, and - maybe even more commendable - a demonstrated, even devout, commitment to the weird. There's a certain type of absurdist awe, the realization that the world is stranger than we knew, that this film elicits, and that always earns my gratitude. A solid 3.5 despite Basic Investigative Doc format & slightly problematic ending.