Everyone likes something weird. Of course, some like weirder stuff than others.
New Zealand journalist David Farrier, for one reason or another, is surfing the web and suddenly stumbles upon a video of a couple of dudes, literally tying up another dude and tickling him. Why? How? And what is it all for? Well, being the journalist that he is, Farrier decides to take a closer look and research more and more about this tickling and realizes that, hell, there’s a whole bunch of other videos out there of the same thing. Better yet, there’s even a whole league for it, which aptly names itself “competitive endurance tickling”. Farrier has no clue what the hell he is looking at, so he decides to reach out to the video-production company filming and releasing the videos, Jane O’Brien Media. He thinks what will be just a simple little peak of his curiosity, soon turns into something so crazy, so far-fetched, so corrupt, so insane and most of all, so dangerous, that Farrier, as well as his traveling/filming buddy, television producer Dylan Reeve, don’t know what to do or expect next. All that they can do is continue to research, reach out to people and figure out just what the hell is going beyond all of the tickling and giggling.
Tickled is by far one of the oddest, most random, yet, compelling, exciting, intense, and surprising documentaries I have ever seen. It starts out as a documentary about competitive tickling and these weird videos that are all over the internet and sooner than later, turns into something hugely and incredibly different. To say why that is, or how, would be an absolute disservice to you, the reader, and also to the movie; after all, the biggest sell about the flick is that you don’t really know what’s going on, just like the film-makers themselves.
Due to both Dylan Reeve and David Ferrier having no clue of what adventure they’re setting out on, the movie’s even more compelling because we’re with them every step of the way. When they find something out, we find something out; when they get threatened with legal, or physical action, we get get threatened, too; when they interview some odd-belly wacko who, oddly, turns out to be sympathetic, we’re interviewing them, too; and whenever they’re thrown into a do-or-die situation that they may not be able to get out of, we are automatically thrown into the same situation.
It sounds so obvious, but it works.
Tickled is the kind of documentary that makes me understand why I love good, hard, well-reported and interesting investigative journalism. Sure, it’s a documentary and at that, not necessarily a piece that you associate with journalism, but Ferrier makes it very clear from the get-go that he not only wants to find out what’s going on beyond all of these tickling videos, but who’s to blame. Once he begins to find out all of that out, he realizes that there’s something mean, downright evil going on and it’s where Tickled becomes more and more intense. We don’t quite know where it’s going to go, how it’s going to end-up, or who else we’re going to talk into along the way, but the ride is so thrilling and, at times, scary, it’s hard to not get involved.
And even the reveal itself of what’s really going on, believe it or not, isn’t disappointing. So often with movies in general, especially documentaries, when we find out the answer to a central mystery, it can’t help but go down with a whimper, instead of a bang. It’s sometimes as if the film makers knew that they were standing on a gold mine, but didn’t know how much that gold cost, or how rare it was, so they just decided to try and sell it and do with whatever they had. Take, for instance, the original Catfish flick – interesting idea, neat execution, but the follow-through in the final-act is so weak that when we do actually find out who is to blame, or what’s going on, it just seems lame.
Then again, such is the reality with life.
However, here with Tickled, the execution isn’t just great, but so is the follow-through. Once we find out who’s to blame for all of these videos and why they’re so twisted in the first place, the movie becomes less about guys who get some sort of sexual pleasure from being tied-up and tickled, and more of a movie about privacy, what deserves to be out there on the web, and just how far can one person go to take over another person’s life. It is, above all else, an incredibly relevant movie that in the internet-age we live in, it’s hard not to sympathize with; the various interviews and discussions with people who have been involved with these tickling videos are sad and disturbing. That most of them were just youngsters looking to make a quick buck for whatever reasons and are now paying the piper because they don’t want said tickling videos out there on the web for the whole world to see, really makes you feel for them.
But Tickled doesn’t just stop at showing sad people and leaving it at that. David Ferrier and Dylan Reeve deserve all of the kudos for actually going out there, finding something odd and unique, but also realizing that something dangerous like this, also deserves to be explored further. I don’t know how much time, or money went into these guys investigating these videos and their creators, but I will say this, it was worth it all. What they eventually find out is not only shocking, but downright memorable. It’s weird that I’d go so far as to profess my love for a movie about competitive tickling, but the movie itself is so much more than that and for that reason alone, it deserves high, loving and adoring praise.
With maybe a few playful tickles here and there.
Consensus: Weird, yet oddly compelling, Tickled starts out as one thing, and turns into another completely, while always having something to say along this wild, crazy and always intense journey in the darkest regions of the internet.
9.5 / 10