31 Days Of Horror: “Tickled” Is A Surreal Documentary That’s As Interesting As It Is Frightening
I’m sure there are those out there that are wondering why I keep writing about documentaries during our “31 Days Of Horror”, and the truth is reality scares me a lot more than fiction. It has always been the case and will always be the case. “Tickled” – a documentary by New Zealand journalist David Farrier and friend and filmmaker Dylan Reeve — is no exception. Farrier is known for seeking out odd stories that seem too weird to be true and when he stumbles on the ‘sport’ Competitive Endurance Tickling he knows he has found the next subject he is going to tackle. Run by a company known as Jane O’Brien Media, young, good looking, fit men are sought out and paid handsomely for allowing themselves to be tied down and tickled for as long as they can possibly handle without breaking. Jane O’Brien Media seems to target athletes, body builders, and anyone looking to make a lot of money for doing something that’s seemingly so easy. The trick is when they want to stop doing the competition — which is filmed — Jane O’Brien threatens them, their families, posts the videos online, makes up malicious lies about them and does everything they can to ruin their lives. Things are apparently a lot darker than imagined in the world of tickling.
Once Farrier and Reeve make it known that they’re going to do a story on the competition, Jane O’Brien Media unleashes letter after letter of intent to take them to court, demands they cease production and walk away before it gets really bad for them, and even goes as far to send out three representatives to their homeland to have a sit-down meeting and let it be known that they mean business. This, of course, has the opposite effect as Farrier and Reeve have now become too interested in what’s really going on to just walk away.
The one big fear with a documentary of this magnitude is getting invested and wanting to know the answers the film will undoubtedly bring up and ultimately not finding anything out. You don’t need to have that fear with “Tickled” as (without giving anything away) Farrier and Reeve definitely do find the answers they’re looking for and enter into a terrifying underworld no one really knew existed. Jane O’Brien Media has a lot of financial backing, as it seems, and can afford to threaten anyone that may talk about what it is they’re really doing; that’s what makes Farrier’s and Reeve’s film that much more impressive. Their own safety is put on the line to expose the truth and it’s a surreal journey that they end up taking the viewer on.
“Tickled” is one of those documentaries that leaves you feeling uncomfortable after watching it; leaves you wondering how people can get away with the things they’re doing and how law enforcement has yet to step in and put an end to it. In a day and age when everything that is private about your life can be exposed to the world with a click of a button, do you really go after a company that is known for ruining lives? Fortunately for the viewer, the answer is yes.