There have been a lot of different sports on the TV recently during the Rio Olympics but one of them wasn’t competitive tickling. Surprising really, it’s a sport that surely has universal appeal. If you’ve never heard of competitive tickling then Tickled is a sports documentary mashed with a thriller and is quite unlike anything you’ll see this year.
David Farrier is a journalist from New Zealand. He specialises in the strange and amusing stories that feature at the end of the news. One day he stumbles on to the world of competitive tickling. Thinking this is exactly the kind of story he is looking for he contacts the company who runs this ‘sport’, Jane O’Brien Media. However, they are not willing to be part of his news piece and send back threatening and homophobic emails back. This just encourages David further and he keeps on digging in to the subject uncovering more than he bargained for.
Competitive tickling sounds silly and harmless. However, it turns out that things are a lot more dark and destructive as Farrier burrows deeper in to the rabbit hole. The shady Jane O’Brien is a vicious and manipulative individual who grooms potential competitors, always young men, in their sport, enticing them with huge sums of money and expensive gifts but when the guys decide they don’t want to take part any more or want the videos removed then they are barraged by systematic threats and actions which begin to destroy their lives. It all feels a little unbelievable, and you can never quite shake the feeling that the documentary is a concealed fiction, but it’s a study in obsession and control where people with money exploit and prey on the less fortunate and even after they are caught, are never served the punishment that they deserve.
Tickled does feel a little stretched; feeling more like it could have been a shorter piece, especially as things get a little sluggish when it spends quite a bit of time on the harmless tickling fetish that exists, and it never quite skewers the culprit behind it all, leaving you feeling that the documentary has missed it’s big climax. However, for the most part Tickled is an entertaining and shocking documentary with thriller style twists and turns that will keep you interested and guessing until the end.
4 out of 5