“Tickled” A Dark Look At Something That Was Once Harmless

By Scott Kurland

Film: Tickled
Rated R
Directors: David Farrier & Dylan Reeve

Laughter. It’s the one sound Robin Williams always loved to hear. It was his favorite thing in the world and probably what motivated him to perform. If you’ve ever gone to or participated in an open mic night, there’s nothing more addictive then making a hundred or more strangers laugh. But what if I were to tell you that there are people out there that see laughter as a power play? I’m not referring to performing stand-up, improv, podcasting, films, or anything of entertainment value. There are some people in this world that like to see laughter and tickling as a torture device. These people are the subject of this weeks film, the controversial documentary “Tickled,” from journalist David Farrier and his film partner Dylan Reeve. Let’s find out if it’s any good shall we.

“Tickled” follows the true story of journalist David Farrier, a New Zealand television reporter who tends to focus on the lighter side of journalism. He focuses mainly on any specialty subject that brings people joy; everything from acrobatics to the music industry. David was the man who interviewed Justin Bieber when he first came to New Zealand (back when Bieber appreciated his fans). His career comes to a screeching halt however when he stumbles upon a rabbit-hole known as “Competitive Endurance Tickling” from a group known only as Jane O’Brien Media. When David asks for an interview, things take a dark turn. The secret Dylan and David uncover is life altering and the documentary it inspires is a perfect blend of fascination and terror .

I’m not going to give too much away, because everyone should see this documentary. It’s produced by both Magnolia Films and HBO documentaries so it should be available soon via HBO GO and Netflix. What I will say is this: I never thought of tickling as something that could ever be used to ruin the lives of others. Now, I have been informed and am shaken to my core. 

Farrier and Reeve are fearless documentarians who show the audience what it means to be a good film-maker. They risk their reputations, their well being, and even their financial status to get to the bottom of the story. As the film progresses, we learn that this Jane O’Brien media group will stop at nothing to prevent David and Dylan from finding out the truth. David and Dylan are faced with multiple lawsuits and the threat of deportation (even though they have work visas) as they dive way too deep into a conspiracy that they never knew existed.

What I really enjoyed about this film was uncovering mystery of who controlled these websites and what was really going on behind the curtain. “Tickled” does what a great documentary should do; it informs the public of an unexplored subject and allows them to form their own opinions. The documentarians also succeed in making the audience uncomfortable. There are moments in this documentary where I had to turn away from the screen because what I was viewing was so unbelievably bizarre. When I looked back at the screen, David Farrier was doing exactly what I was doing. He couldn’t bear to look at all this "tickling" either.

A few years ago, a “Documentary” came out called “Catfish” which was revealed to be partially fake, and partially real. “Tickled” at times may appear to be staged, but rest assured, this is real. This is so real that it’s frightening. “Competitive Endurance Tickling” is a real honest-to-god thing. Hopefully David and Dylan did their part and informed the world, but two men can only achieve so much.

“Tickled” is a fantastically frightening film that takes its audience through a maze of torture, blackmail, and journalistic integrity. I urge you to hunt this film down and help David and Dylan win the day. It’s thought provoking, intelligent, and I found my self saying, out loud: “NO WAY” and “OH MY GOD.” Never in my life have I seen a documentary uncover so much and  leave so many questions unanswered. “Tickled” is a must see film. But be warned, once you know the truth like David and Dylan, you can't turn back.

scott kurlandComment