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  • Tickled certainly deviates from its trailer, but the film itself is a shocking piece of art. Tied together with tasteful cinematography (with necessary hidden cameras here and there), Tickled captures the enigma of David D'Amato's empire of male-tickling videos which results in scare tactics, harassment, and financial bullying of the unsuspecting participants--something that is very relevant to modern issues. I felt sad walking out of the film, which is evidence that this film does its job of riding the line between comedy and tragedy. I do feel that the trailer sets up an expectation of a horror/thriller aspect, but there is not much of this atmosphere in the film. I do, however, think that the film by itself is a brave piece of journalism that endangered the Tickled team financially and psychologically. The fact that the team was able to muster up the courage to finish the film is remarkable, and I hope David and his team are brought to justice.
  • Whether it is drama, comedy or documentary, New Zealand filmmakers punch above their weight. The documentary Tickled (2016) is one of the most unusual films you will see for a long time and a guaranteed conversation starter in the right company. While the film's title suggests comedic titillation, what it reveals is something more sinister that has wrecked many lives. It is also a fine example of how dogged investigative journalism can stumble from something that appears innocuously weird into something bizarrely dangerous.

    It is said that movies have plots while documentaries have premises. Pop-culture journalist David Farrier specialises in fringe phenomena and his premise is that if someone spends a fortune to stay anonymous they have something serious to hide. He comes across something described as "competitive professional tickling" that involves the filming of young athletic males being tied down and tickled by one or more other young athletic males, all fully clothed. His initial inquiries to understand more about this activity are so aggressively stonewalled that he turns his investigation into a documentary with most of the filming in the United States. Expecting to find a secretive cult of homoerotic activity, he finds participants who have been subjected to extraordinary legal threats, extortion, and public shaming. The scale of intimidation and the lengths to which perpetrators are prepared to go indicate there is big money involved. The documentary feels like a parallel universe where things go from strange to stranger as the inquiries lead to a prominent and wealthy American lawyer who was a teacher and school principal. Farrier and his team-mate Dylan Reeve use old fashioned stakeouts, doorstop confrontations, and forensic web-based research to turn the study of a fringe fetish into a gripping thriller.

    This is a well-produced documentary, especially for a novice filmmaker. Minor criticisms aside, like Ferrier's occasional tendency to tell rather than show and a few scenes that need tighter editing (like the time spent in the car stake-out), the overall pace, direction and content make this a totally engaging film. The hand-held filming technique and the unexpected twists and turns in the investigation impart real-time-discovery effects. A quick Google search will show that both during production and since the film's release Farrier and Reeve have been and still are under serious legal and financial threat. Not only do the filmmakers deserve a bravery award, their work is riveting from the laughter-filled opening scenes to the chilling closing credits.
  • New Zealand journalist David Farrier came upon the strange phenomena of competitive endurance tickling when searching online for new avenues to write articles on. He duly contacted the group who organised it, Jane O'Brien Media, but was met with a volley of abuse. After some to-ing and fro-ing they sent over representatives to Auckland to meet Farrier and his fellow film-maker, which only led to further threats. This bullying encouraged the two film-makers to go to the United States to try and find out more about what dark forces were behind this seemingly innocuous, if somewhat bizarre, online activity.

    Tickled has been described as the new Catfish (2010) and not entirely without justification. It shares the concept of a documentary following a mystery route where strange secrets are uncovered. In this one an enigmatic empire seems to lie behind the world of tickling, which is really not a competitive endurance based activity at all but an odd sexual fetish. It turns out it is harmless enough to get many young men involved when there is a cash incentive but embarrassing enough to cause them many problems when these tickle videos begin to be posted everywhere online by the media group who own them. The videos are used in this way as a means of ensuring the men comply with the demands of the mysterious leader Jane O'Brien, if the boys refuse to do more work then the videos are posted everywhere with their real names attached to them. The film-makers soon discovered that most of these young men were consequently too afraid to speak out but one or two individuals do talk and detail the levels of blackmail, bullying and exploitation they have had to endure. There group behind it seem to be as much interested in power and control, as they are in their sexual fetish. The investigation begins in the earliest days of the internet and continues to the present day. There is a big reveal late on but it's best not to say too much about it.

    It could probably be argued that, while this one has a very interesting premise, it doesn't necessarily wrap things up as strongly as it might. By the end it feels like there are still more questions than answers. Still, this is an interesting and strange story and despite one or two flaws, it's one that makes for fascinating viewing.
  • 'TICKLED': Four Stars (Out of Five)

    Critically acclaimed documentary flick; about an online tickling competition, involving young athletes tickling each other. The film was directed by first time feature filmmakers David Farrier and Dylan Reeve. Farrier is a New Zealand entertainment journalist, who also stars in the movie. He met a lot of harsh resistance, while investigating the film's story, from a producer of the 'tickling endurance sport' (named Jane O'Brien). The struggles Farrier and Reeve had making the film, becomes as much apart of the story as the tickling itself. The movie has received mostly rave reviews from critics, and it's become a small indie hit (at the Box Office). I think the film is really well made, and extremely intriguing.

    The movie begins with a montage of clips, from Farrier's other obscure entertainment stories. Then we see him come across an 'endurance tickling' video. He's intrigued by it, and he then decides to write the producers of the video (Jane O'Brien Media) about doing a story on the sport. He gets a very negative reply, from the corporation, which accuses him of wanting to put a 'gay slant' on the videos (as they insist the 'endurance competition' is exclusively heterosexual). Farrier, and his friend Dylan Reeve, then decide to investigate the subject further; as they make a documentary about their journalistic journey.

    The movie is a very insightful (and educational) look, at how much those with a lot of money (and power) can get away with. It's involving, and always interesting; and at times it seems more like a legal thriller, than a film about an odd fetish. The material is disturbing, and often hard to watch, but it's also really well made. As far as documentaries go, this one is pretty fascinating (and informative).

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  • One would assume a documentary about tickling to be a somewhat innocent, funny, and strange peek into a niche fetish community. At least that's what I was expecting. I'm not the only who got more than they bargained for in the new documentary "Tickled."

    After stumbling onto a website about tickling competitions, David Farrier, a pop culture reporter from New Zealand, and the director of the documentary, set his sights on revealing this weird fetish to his local audience. Upon digging further, his goal shifts from a lighthearted reveal to the responsibility of exposing an illegal, abusive organization which is preying on vulnerable young men all over the world.

    Tickling competitions (for those not familiar) involve young men participating in a game of endurance wherein they are strapped down and tickled by numerous other young men, all in revealing gym clothing. When Farrier discovers that teenagers from New Zealand and elsewhere were being flown to the US to participate in these competitions (all expenses paid), he did what any good reporter would and stuck his nose into other people's business. He reached out to Jane O'Brien Media, the organization that sponsors the tickling competitions, for an interview. In response, Jane O'Brien Media almost immediately confronted him with an aggressive letter suggesting he and his bisexual preferences are perverted and he will not be granted an interview. This is a bit confusing due to the obviously homoerotic vibe of these tickling videos, but that's only the beginning of where this story gets bizarre.

    Farrier quickly joins forces with fellow Kiwi and internet nerd Dylan Reeve (the co- director of the film) and they begin to dig. Reeve, having previously worked with internet service providers, knows how to access and research online data and started researching the history of this organization and its representative "Debra," with whom they've been corresponding. At this point, the layers slowly begin to unravel and the audience's awkward giggles fade. Before you know it, your seemingly innocent trip into a colorful rabbit hole of "weird stuff humans do" is transformed into a tornado of deception, greed, and control.

    As Farrier went deeper into researching Jane O'Brien Media—often working from his couch with a live parrot on his shoulder—the offensive email attacks quickly turned into legal threats followed by a personal visit from two New York lawyers to his office in New Zealand. Farrier and Reeve opened up a Pandora's Box into the world of endurance tickling and it is not pretty.

    Unwilling to back down despite the legal actions taken by Jane O'Brien Media, they head to America and begin interviewing people involved in the tickling ring. They fail in an attempt to sneak into a Jane O'Brien video shoot (held in some sketchy warehouse) so instead they find themselves in the house of a small-scale tickling entrepreneur—a mid-50's clean cut man living in Florida—and witness a "session." Allow me to paint the picture: The "client," a fit young man in his late teens, early 20s comes over, takes off his shirt, and gets strapped in for 20 minutes of non- stop, video-recorded tickling. The tickling involves the use of various objects including an electric toothbrush, feathers, and, of course, the Florida man's hands. Watching this attractive young man squirm and giggle while being dominated and tortured with no way to escape creates an incredibly voyeuristic scene that leaves Farrier visibly uncomfortable.

    The film's success is rooted in the non-stop peeling back of layers of manipulation which draws the viewer deeper and deeper into the core of this disturbing world. As Farrier and Reeve continue to piece together the mystery of who is running the Jane O'Brien empire through accounts from its victims, it becomes clear that the organization is using money to target and manipulate a certain demographics— young, low-income boys—and then basically ruining many of their lives with the footage. It's like a psychological mystery thriller after-school special and the lesson is still, "don't talk to strangers."

    The film is really a journey running through themes of domination, manipulation, the power of the internet, bullying, the dynamics in economic inequality and greed all rolled into one. It's an exposé that involves a real emotional roller-coaster and a must-see film. Especially if you want to laugh and then feel awkward for laughing, get mad, maybe laugh again, and perhaps shed a tear, too. Feel the feelings, see the film.
  • I arrived at the local art house cinema expecting to see Weiner only to find that it played at 4:30 and 9:30. Tickled, a film I hadn't heard of was just about to start at 7:00 so there I was.

    I have seen tickle videos on YouTube and elsewhere and always wondered about the economics behind these strange, professional looking videos. They weren't advertisements for subscription pay sites so what gives...

    Tickled sheds some light on the economics and motivation behind them. Without giving anything away, I'd suggest that it is as creepy and malevolent a story as Foxcatcher. The head games played by Mr. DuPont and 'Teri Tickle' are frighteningly similar even if the results were very different.

    Talking about the film with strangers as I left the theater: I thought my 'creepy' was better than any of the other adjectives mentioned. But when I talked about tickle videos being everywhere on the Internet, they might of thought that was creepy.

    Too often in documentaries, the person with the microphone can be overbearing to irritation. The low key approach in Tickled makes the journey more interesting. It only heightens what unfolds on the screen.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Please don't read this review if you want to avoid a spoiler.

    Documentaries like this are what make Netflix more than worth the money. This is an interesting exposé of David D'Amato, an obese, troubled and wealthy American gay man who has built up what can only be described as an international tickling-porn exploitation ring. For many years, his network has found and paid indigent young men to do these videos.

    The videos are not done naked, so somehow this gay man has (with bizarre homophobic logic) convinced himself that it is not gay. If a young man crosses him at some point (e.g. by stopping), he retaliates by doxing and humiliating the hapless young man all over the internet and by sending revealing, hateful and lurid correspondence to everyone in the young man's life, including his parents, his employers, and so on.

    The porn producers and tickle-porn actors are understandably terrified of him. In carrying out these activities, he has (apparently and allegedly) committed several crimes, including identity theft, impersonating a lawyer, extortion, visa fraud and so on.

    Our stalwart filmmakers include David Farrier, a New Zealand reporter quite similar to Louis Theroux, who stumbles onto all this and documents what he finds. He faces a shitstorm of rather intimidating legal action from this guy and his minions. However, he pursues it diligently, and with one or two really lucky breaks he succeeds in exposing the whole exploitation ring to the world and identifying this horrible man.

    At some point, this movie changed direction: what happens when a lowly and unresourced investigative journalist, taking on the role that should really be carried out by police and prosecutors, decides to expose the malevolent and possibly criminal practices of a wealthy scumbag to the world? David and Dylan turn out to have huge balls, because once the sh*t starts flying they just go after him even more.

    It really is a remarkable movie and a decent bit of investigative journalism. We should support David Farrier and Dylan Reeve for their bravery and professionalism, as they battle lawsuits initiated by this nutcase even as you're reading this. Fortunately, HBO and Magnolia picked up the movie and hopefully made it worthwhile.
  • As with The Jinx, a simple take-away is this: you get someone who has a *lot* of personal identity issues and a *lot* of New York family money, and it makes for a ridiculously dangerous combination - emphasis on both ridiculous and dangerous.

    This was riveting material as a mystery-unfolds story, though the filmmaking is fairly standard as an expose (you can't help but feel suspense for the directors as they have to do literal stake-outs outside of places like the 'Tickle' video building, where as if out of the Joker's hide-out you can hear the barbaric sounds of laughter wafting out of the windows, or when they wait for days to find the one car that belongs to the now-late David D'Amato). It gets stronger and more disturbing as it goes along as the directors discover more and more in places they weren't necessarily looking; at first they were simply looking into another tickling-fetish video company out of Orlando not related to the group that was trying to "sue" the filmmakers (in quotes as it turned out to be a bust). Then this leads from one person to another, and it turns out to be aliases and undercover identities, stolen social security numbers from dead people, and a figure who was once an assistant principal at a school.

    I thought at first this was going to all be some sort of goof, even into the first minute or so of the interview with the first "tickled" subject who agreed to talk on camera (face and all, not in the shadows or only just a voice or so on). What this so-called 'company' did is mortifying, and all for what is on one hand a seemingly innocent and on the other hand is disquieting; think about the times that you have, as a child, been tickled by your parents or tickle siblings or friends, and all in a having-fun sort of way. The manner in which some of these tickling videos were presented, one expects the Gimp from Pulp Fiction might appear to either tickle or be tickled.

    And yet people going into this doc should know it's not an exploration of ticklers like, say, Hot Girls Wanted where it's about the subjects in the videos. It touches somewhat on the fetish, but this, aside from some curious homosexual aspects (and I mean that not in any gross way, simply that it's interesting that it's all men and that David D'Amato is one of those highly ashamed gay men of wealth and prestige and projects that on to others), is more about the depths of WTF that go into this "Tiffany Tickle" or whatever her name was and how she is really this one man D'Amato.

    It's about power and control, and how it corrupts and makes humans into monsters, which slightly, thematically, connects back to how tickling in these videos is about submission and domination and being emasculated under intense pressure (again they're *all* young, well-built men in the videos, never women, never men older than, say, 24). In that way, Tickled can't help but hold out attention - not to mention a final, devastating phone conversation with D'Amato's step-mother.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    New Zealand journalist David Farrier (tv series Short Poppies, etc) has made a career out of looking at the weird side of life. But even he was unprepared for the fallout after stumbling upon a website about "competitive endurance tickling" in which young men were paid to be tied up and tickled, complete with some videos. Although the on-line videos were pretty harmless, they piqued his curiosity and Farrier decided to find out more. But when he contacted Jane O'Brien Media to try an arrange an interview he was harassed and threatened with lawsuits from a high powered US firm. Their secretive and aggressive manner intrigued Farrier even further and he tried to probe beneath the surface. He and his collaborator, writer/filmmaker and computer expert Dylan Reeve, discovered a vaguely sinister to this tickling fetish as they travelled to Los Angeles and New York. Farrier talks to a couple of former tickle participants who talk about being blackmailed and threatened. What began as a light hearted investigation into something that initially seemed vaguely homoerotic but innocuous turned into a thriller as Farrier and Reeve tried to probe a web of corporate paperwork to find out the identity of the mysterious figures behind Jane O'Brien Media. By turns amusing and gripping, Tickled gives us a look at the darker side of the internet and a vaguely unsettling subculture, and explores themes of power, control, harassment, fetishism, corruption, and criminal activity. This is the first feature length documentary from Farrier, and he has an amiable screen presence, but he also demonstrates a dogged sense of purpose as he refuses to back down from threats and intimidation as he gets closer to learning the identity of the person behind this unusual enterprise. A strange and decidedly weird little documentary that is unexpectedly compelling and entertaining.
  • I had stumbled upon the videos myself. Years before the movie came out. Mostly the audition tapes. The guys were about my age. Specifically the ones with the MMA fighters. I did notice as the audition tapes came out Jordan Schillaci became less enthusiastic about the process. That wasn't anything that seemed like a red flag though. I thought it was acting. It seemed like a bunch of young adults having fun in their spare time. I was very upset to learn some peoples lives were ruined by the whole experience. It didn't seem like anything bad to me. Just some guys who were barely out of their childhood years enjoying tickle sessions. I saw it as childish fun, not anything sexual. I'm glad the filmmakers helped put a stop to David D'Amato and his harassment, when he was alive.

    I know Jordan recanted some of his statements, but he seems terrified in those interviews with people from D'Amato's team. I recently found out Jordan died back in August (2019). I didn't know him, but it still broke my heart. His personality in the clips could pull people in, and his MMA fight clips are cool. RIP Jordan Schillaci.
  • And it isn't even a thriller. The tenseness I felt watching this movie is something I never felt before. This movie is a prime example of true investigative journalism, starting with something seemingly innocent and it ending up being one of the most disturbing things I have heard about. I believe this movie is a must see, even for people who do not like documentaries. Because this story could have easily been fictional.

    David does a great job letting you see this movie trough his eyes and trough they eyes of the people affected by it, I can only imagine the dread and fear he and they felt making this documentary. I liked that David left in his struggles while making this movie, even though the movie sometimes slowed down because of it, and that's my only critique. I have great respect for the fearlessness David and Dylan had making this movie, and for the people they managed to interview.

    Tickled is a crazy adventure about something I didn't know I wanted to know about. Its frightening, Interesting and sometimes a little silly. The title might seem funny, but believe me this movie is no joke.
  • yourt-8831215 October 2016
    A very intriguing documentary by this clever kiwi crew. What seems to be, and what SHOULD be, some fairly innocent and legit questions asked about professional tickling, turns out to be something quite extraordinary.

    A rabbit hole that goes very deep indeed, as leads get thin, and as law suits get filed, the crew know it is going to be a tough journey to get to the bottom of things and get the tough answers to the questions that were initially asked.

    It keeps the viewer engaged right to the very end.

    Very enjoyable and enlightening watch.

    Perhaps the next step for this crew is to see if they can get to the bottom of Huzaifa Huxaifa and why Lenny Pozner has a copyright on this person.
  • Tickled is such a weird creature, a documentary about the "Sport" of competitive endurance tickling. Yep, you read that right.

    However that is merely the beginning, as the documentary delves deeper it gets dark. Really, really dark.

    Not to ruin anything but there is so much more and the subject matter is remarkable, trouble is its ruined by a very lackluster near spineless documentary filmmaker who squanders the potential.

    Within moments I felt like I was watching another scripted documentary alike Catfish (2010) the concept was too fantastical and everything just felt too convenient.

    However upon investigation it certainly appears to be legitimate and once you've watched the documentary you'll realise that is a really scary fact.

    Well made and truly fascinating subject matter but handled by people who were just out of their depth.

    We can only dream what could have been! Do hope this doesn't develop a TV show like Catfish otherwise my spidey sense will start tingling again.
  • David Farrier captures our attentions with subtlety and ease in his documentary, TICKLED.

    When David receives a hostile response to an inquiry about competitive tickling he does not shy away from looking further.

    It is the looking further when a seemingly harmless 'sport' comes to be seen as something much much more. David managed to arouse our curiosity and take us on a journey that (pun intended) tickled my interest, deepened my suspicions and shocked me with it's focus.

    TICKLED goes to show us what money and position can achieve and get away with. In a scenario which could have been harmless, one person takes it to an abusive next level and David is there with us the entire time.
  • searchanddestroy-115 October 2018
    Yes, terrific, outstanding, because so weird, disturbing and real in the same time. The other users have told about told it far better than I will ever do. But no, I have never seen such topic about such a matter. They talk about tickling as if it was a Secret Defense issue, involving the National Security files. Or the Mafia, criminal nets...And the best is in the end, where everything is finally explained. On the phone, the step mother of the man guilty of all this explains, gives détails about the genesis of this behaviour. That's the best for me. I still can't believe it. Thanks Netflix for this gem.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Such an amazing film that I prefer to sketch out the broader points in note form:

    1. The story is well known. Obscure N.Z. reporter with limited funds stumbles across an odd story on social media, tries to investigate it, and in no time at all 3 "thugs" cross the ocean from the U.S. to intimidate him. Digging deeper, he discovers what APPEARS TO BE a lone sociopath with millions of inherited family money who has, just like a Bond villain, established a global network of "tickling" studios, not necessarily for the money but seemingly to satisfy odd personal desires. A pattern emerges suggesting that this individual has a multi-decade "pattern" of the most astonishing personal attacks (including identity theft and other federal crimes) against anyone anywhere who gets in his way. Yet (and this is never properly explained in the film) somehow manages to bend even the Justice system to his will.

    2. So how does the film-maker respond? By crowdfunding a documentary and then tracking down the arch-villain. (The film is really a cross between a true documentary and an investigative journalism piece, which is quite rare.)

    3. That's all the spoilers for the story. The raw power of the doc, however, lies in its ability to tease the viewer's imagination about what lies at the end of the breadcrumb trail. By the time you meet the nemesis (who in fact passed away shortly after the premier) the viewer has already formed a "mental picture" of what he will be like. That's the real power and magic of the story.

    4. Possibly one of the greatest docs of all time, even has its own sequel. Highly recommended.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I'm so pissed that people with money and get away with breaking the law. How on earth can you get away with ruining people's lives?? I feel so bad for these people that have been effected by this one man!!! This man who needs to go to prison. He's been committing crimes left and right. How are you allowed to take out a credit card in a dead persons name??? I'm confused how he's getting away with this. I hope it catches up with him. There's a special place reserved for people like him. Same place my ex is going.
  • Tickled began with a simple idea. Some film-makers were exploring a fun story about the world of competitive tickling after seeing a couple videos on the internet. But this documentary is only partially about people being put in restraints and tickled until they can hardly stand it. The rabbit hole that these film-makers get sucked down is surprisingly deep, and absolutely thrilling. Faced with a great deal of opposition, it feels like every scene in Tickled requires the documentary team to take a risk. There are action movies that do less to excite me than this movie did by simply approaching some men to ask a few questions. Who would have thought that there was so much to learn about such a silly topic? The documentary team does some research, and helps fill in as many of the gaps in the story as possible. I was impressed by the fact that they were able to find some people to come forward with the truth, and also that they never shied away from confronting those involved.

    I think it's important to point out that all the videos that are shown in this film involve fully-clothed people (with the exception of some guys who have their shirts off.) While it might be a fetish for some, there's nothing overtly sexual in the content we are shown. That's what makes the entire story so fascinating, because it feels like a relatively harmless series of videos that may titillate someone, but shouldn't scandalize all the people involved. Yet there's a cover-up going on, and the joy of this documentary is getting to the bottom of it all. I was downright riveted by all the things we learned as this movie progressed, and I was desperate for more. In fact, I fear that's the one area where Tickled felt a bit lacking. The pay-off at the end felt like we had a few answers but no solutions. I understand it's not the role of documentarians to fix the world's problems, but I felt the film left me on an unsatisfactory cliffhanger. Tickled is still an excellent story, and it delivers more than you'd expect.
  • I like all things Kiwi, so I was biased going into this one. Regardless, this one is important not because "competitive endurance tickling" is such a important issue or a noble cause by any means (haha), but that journalism can be such a powerful thing for lessening the power of bullies with a lot of money.

    This documentary was a keen reminder that not only will money give you legal immunity but it will also increase the means for a sadistic mind to royally mess with the lives of people.

    I'd watch it for shock value and an interesting story.

    I'd also watch it because it's a great reminder of how "untouchable" a lot of people really are in this world.
  • This is a film hard to review without spoiling, so I will restrain myself from saying anything with detail because there are things here that are better understood in context while watching the film rather than me giving away certain details..

    Immediately starting off expecting a satire of this tickling event, the film pulls the rug from under you making you think that you were going to watch a weird movie about this bizarre competition. However, you soon discover the dark and cynical side to all of this and it absolutely blew my mind. With each unravelling moment, your jaw will be on the floor to see the corruption and deceit that had been going around. With each interview, you feel the pain that these people had gone through and will sympathize for them because of what happened to them. None of these men who soon became casualties deserved everything that had happened to them. However, with some other people, you will loathe them based on their ideology and how people with power can be so corrupted.

    It's like how I felt when I was watching "Spotlight" where you respect the journalists that keep pushing to get the truth, no matter the amount of threats and harm that may come to them. These two journalists in this film kept on going and you simply have to admire all that they have done. They brought all of the tension and thrills necessary to keep this documentary interesting and they follow a story that seems so unreal that you'll be surprised that it actually happened. Providing proper research and dedication, this documentary easily became one of the best documentaries I've seen. This may not suit everyone's cup of tea, but it is still worth watching to see that truth can be more bizarre than fiction and to see the amount of obstacles these men had to go through to get this movie out there.

    Also, I recommend watching the short film "The Tickle King" as it continues from after the premier and brings in the same tension that you will see in this film.
  • Let me start by saying I wanted to like 'Tickled', and went in thoroughly expecting to do so, after having been left intrigued and excited by a very well made trailer for the documentary. What I ended up finding though, was sadly that I'd seen pretty much everything this had to offer in said trailer. The trailer promised elements of horror and mystery, but sadly delivered zero horror and little, if any, genuine mystery.

    The whole thing gets off to a roaring start in the first 20 minutes, setting itself to seemingly be a great ride, hopefully leading to a thrilling conclusion. Sadly, the first 20 minutes are by far the best 'Tickled' has to offer. The middle is filled with just that - filler. The pace slows dramatically and we are left wondering what the significance of what we are actually seeing is. The ending lacked any punch at all and leaves you with a feeling of "Is that it?"

    David Farrier tried his best, but was clearly out of his depth in a lot of situations. He's fine when the person wants to talk and is giving a willing interview, but as soon as a situation comes up where the interviewee is being evasive, his attempts to get a word out of them are amateurish and hardly worthy of making the final cut. Also his frequent swearing while giving interviews and talking to the camera are a bad look and take away any sense of class that a documentarian should always possess.

    I guess the bottom line for me was that I felt let down. I don't think there was anything here that couldn't have been covered in a '60 Minutes' segment, and warranted me paying money to go and see it at the cinema. The story is quirky enough and has a twist (of sorts), but is that enough? I think I would have felt completely differently had it delivered a knock out punch to end things. Sadly it didn't though, and for me goes down as a forgettable experience that I won't be recommending.
  • Believe it or not, this documentary about competitive tickling unexpectedly became one of the most gripping and intense films of last year. This film brilliantly sets out to expose some of the most bizarre evils in our world, as journalist David Farrier explores a secret, shocking underground world after stumbling across a weird, silly tickling video online. What follows is a series of twists and turns that feel like a slightly surrealist film noir, but it's ALL REAL!

    Although it works mostly as a bizarre thriller, "Tickled" is also surprisingly comic and tragic. There is certainly much humor to be found in such a strange story, and David Farrier's narration and personality can be naturally funny. Throughout the first half of the film, many witty quips are made from his charming, New Zealander mouth, and it really eases the viewer before tying them up in the mind numbingly crazy mystery ahead. The tragedy plays an even more important role in the story, as the audience is told tales of fraud, abuse, and destruction that will genuinely shock almost anyone. And then, the final phone call scene is one of the most powerful moments in any documentary film that I have seen, as we learn a hidden backstory that, like everything else in the film, is quite unexpected.

    My eyes were glued to the screen, and my stomach was bursting with butterflies as I was engaged in the shocking mysteries this film exposes. It is easily one of the top 3-5 films of last year, and is a true masterpiece of the documentary. It is extremely underrated in my opinion, despite the fact that most people who've seen it seem to really like it, because it just flat out did not receive the wild attention I think it deserves. I encourage everyone to go out and see this movie as soon as possible, despite the fact that it did not even get an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary, which is absolutely ridiculous!
  • The mere idea of "competative tickling" is so out of this world that of course you would make a documentary about it! Add in a bunch of outrageous threats from the company once you look into it - It's gold from the get-go!

    Tickled follows journalist David Farrier, and Dylan Reeve as they dig deep down the rabbit hole to the sickest places imaginable.. And no! None of them is the tickling itself!

    The film is fantastic, it takes itself serious and even when moments arrive where they easily could mock and go for a quick laugh they stay factual and in the most parts let the "Jane O'Brien Media" speak for themselves. Tickled is the best film of the year so far.

    John du Pont, Robert Durst, Jeffery Epstein, David D'Amato(?)
  • Some of the best documentaries start out seeming to be about one subject and turn out to be about something totally different. That is definitely the central tactic of "Tickled," a movie that suggests a deep dive into the bizarre world of "competitive tickling" but surfaces as a film exposing one person's manipulative use of power and money.

    New Zealand journalist David Farrier and filmmaker Dylan Reeve knew they were on to something big when Farrier started to face threats and fierce legal resistance to his investigation of online tickling videos posted by a company named Jane O'Brien Media. They uncover a rather fascinating story, but whether the fish they caught is "feature documentary big" is the larger question that follows this movie around like a shadow.

    Bringing to light that some people have tickling fetishes certainly doesn't merit a 90-minute film, so the story Farrier and Reeve uncover has to be worthy of that time. To that end, you could make the case either way. Their investigation of the mysterious entity of Jane O'Brien Media is the bulk of the film's action, and they carefully unfurl the story, detail by important detail, to maximize tension. Some of these details seem obvious, making their deliberate withholding of information or of their key sources a little more gimmicky than journalistic.

    The story develops legs when we meet some of the young men who have been victimized by this company. Jane O'Brien Media deliberately seeks out young athletic men who will be incentivized by money; the problem is that when any of this "talent" tries to back out, the company uses the videos to ruin the young men's online reputations, i.e. making these videos high in search results about them and plastering their name all over the internet with the videos. What's unsaid is the way this exploits the homoerotic nature of the tickling videos as leverage for extortion.

    "Tickled," however, focuses on finding out the truth about Jane O'Brien Media more so than the power of using the internet to manipulate people, or about how casting young men in a homosexual light can do incredible damage to their lives. These are issues that warrant exploration, but Farrier and Reeve mostly use them to add stakes and tone to their investigation.

    Investigative reporting is also not visually interesting, which "Tickled" struggles with. Too many shots show Farrier or other subjects/sources in the documentary sitting at a computer, or hands typing on a keyboard with voice-over. This is also the limitation of a story that lives almost exclusively in a digital realm. All of Farrier's brazen attempts to confront the people he needs answers from seem like courageous, bold actions taken in the name of truth, but the flipside of that coin is that his documentary would be nothing without them. There's no action in this film without him taking it.

    A major newspaper report or a long "60 Minutes" segment would seem most appropriate for "Tickled." As fascinating as the truth they discover and the portrait they paint of the individual behind all this are, the documentary feature format feels like an exhaustive means of telling the story. Farrier and Reeve also ignore the most interesting questions in favor of the mystery narrative, though some of Farrier's voice- over toward the end reveals their awareness of these bigger issues. There's one attempt to tie together the film's main topics of tickling and a controlling, abusive individual, but it requires overt explanation, and when that occurs, you know a documentary has become a little too splintered.

    "Tickled" tells a story absolutely worth hearing and raises important questions, but because its tellers discovered themselves in the middle of that story, they weren't quite able to see the big picture and tell that story in a way most fitting for the big screen and that best tackled the issues at its core.

    ~Steven C

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  • Warning: Spoilers
    Tickled is a captivating documentary that begins with a reporter's attempt to interview those behind an internet-based company that produces "competitive endurance tickling" videos. Taking surprising turns, Tickled reveals a dark story of one man's 30 year obsession with athletic young men who are lured into performing for money and gifts, only to become harassed and exploited when they no longer want to be involved with the "sport". Ultimately, this is a revealing expose of David D'Amato's psychological issues and his desire to exert control over the lives of the young men who he ensnared (Klaus Ming June 2017).
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