Review: Tickled

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PLOT: A New Zealand journalist uncovers a strange series of videos involving young men tickling each other. When he decides to cover it as a story, he learns that there is something nefarious, and those behind it will do everything in their power to stop him from finding the truth behind TICKLED.

REVIEW: Nowadays, you can find every single type of fetish online. Generally latex, bondage, group sex and the like come to mind. But what about tickling? Much like the other sexual turn-ons, tickling is a thing that happens quite often. There are several vidoes online where young men are paid to be tied up while they are mercilessly brought to laughter with sometimes two other guys on top of them. According to some involved, it is actually called a “competitive sport," also known as Endurance Tickling. TICKLED is a documentary that follows David Farrier, a New Zealand journalist, who uncovered this while searching for unique stories. For Farrier, it seemed like a fun little account that he could share with his readers, however he wasn’t prepared for the strange and dangerous battle he was about to take on. The real story is nothing to laugh at.

In TICKLED, we witness Farrier’s journey as he attempts to uncover exactly who Jane O’Brien Media is  - the mysterious organization that seemingly runs the tickling contests. When he originally approaches them about conducting an interview, the openly gay journalist finds that the company doesn’t take kindly to his own orientation. The second he starts receiving threatening letters that not only intimidate David, but also attack his personal life, he finds himself even more curious about what he has found. This only pushes him to  dig further into the phenomenon. During his investigation, he’s able to find only a small group of people willing to talk to him. One of the young men brave enough to come forward discussed the many threats that has affected his life. Desperately, the filmmaker attempts to track down the culprit, and discover the secret behind this strange online fetish.

This is a bizarre world. Now that may seem peculiar to say considering I’m talking about college age guys tickling each other with the intended target in bondage. Yet it is much darker than one would imagine. The moment when Farrier is threatened with a barrage of homophobic insults and warnings, he notes that the people who film young men tickling each other making such comments seems a little bit ironic. And it is. Yet while he finds humor in the situation early on, the further he investigates, the more he realizes that these people mean business. The question is, who are the ones behind this world and why do they want to keep it so secret?

Along with his co-director, Dylan Reeve, David travels to the United States to find what is commonly referred to as “tickle cells” hoping to uncover the mystery. As odd and quirky as this sounds, there is an insidious nature to what they find. This seedy bit of business is put on display, and ultimately it only begs for more questions. Although, when secrets are disclosed, it still leaves a few lingering questions. Without revealing what Farrier and Reeve find, there is a sense that there's much more to the story. As creepy as it gets, the further they find themselves involved, the ending does feel slightly anticlimactic. Even still, everything that comes before is incredibly fascinating.

The one thing that is clear is the power of the internet, and just how damaging it can be to somebody. This is very likely why so many of the guys in the videos refused to talk to Farrier. It's a shame, as it would be nice to get in their mindset more than they do here. The subjects of the tickling videos aren’t doing any thing necessarily pornographic, yet when Jane O’Brien Media - or whoever it is making threats - uses the footage to embarrass or demoralize them, it is very unsettling. Perhaps this is why I would have liked to see a more satisfying conclusion than what they offer. Yet this is not the filmmakers fault really. This just may be too big of a world to really bring down, especially considering the massive online audience looking for cheap thrills while watching.

The best way to watch TICKLED is to take it all in without watching the trailer. This is one hell of a fascinating ride. David Farrier wanted to examine an unusual fetish, one that is apparently very popular, and he found much more than he bargained for. What he found was a scary world of bullying and threats meant to harm those who wouldn't comply. As a documentary, it works by creating a solid mystery that the filmmakers attempt to solve. The final ten minutes of the film may not be as intense as what came before, yet it still works. This is a frightening example of the bad that is in this world. If you need another reminder that what you do on the internet, on social media, or in chat groups, whatever it is, it all may come back to haunt you. This is no laughing matter.

Source: JoBlo.com



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