SFF 2016 Review: Tickled

Sydney Film Festival - Tickled

Tickled poster (US)Truth is stranger than fiction in a head-shaking, hilarious and ridiculously tense doco that’s full of twists.

There are at least a few dozen times during a viewing of TICKLED that you will find yourself wanting to scream at the screen “But it’s just tickling!” The exploration of the competitive tickling industry gets very weird very quickly, and entertainment reporter David Farrier knows weird, having interviewed everyone from Justin Bieber to the Donkey Lady. Yet this was just an teaser compared to the events that unfolded when filmmakers Farrier and Dylan Reeve found video footage of competitive tickling online, and the enigmatic company Jane O’Brien Media, and decided to blog about it. What followed was personal attacks, online harassment, and legal threats. Bizarrely, that was just the beginning of what the pair uncovered.

Narrated by Farrier’s wry and comical attitude, a mixture of Louis Theroux’s bullshit detector and John Oliver’s outsider observations, TICKLED is nevertheless an often terrifying examination of cyber-bullying and intimidation. Is this a film about tickling? It definitely explores that, and the legitimate tickling fetishists Farrier interviews are fun and honest. Yet the primary target of Farrier and Reeve’s investigations is a chameleon, a person who proves that power is the most addictive fetish of them all. As the investigative duo get closet to their goal, the film becomes as insanely tense as any thriller film, all the while remaining a Catfish like cautionary tale of being careful who you trust on (and off) the Interwebs.

2015 | UK | DIR: David Farrier, Dylan Reeve | DISTRIBUTOR: Vendetta Films (AUS) | RUNNING TIME: 92 minutes | RATING: ★★★★¼ (8.5/10)