December 15, 2016 -- I didn't watch this movie right away because the description of it, a documentary about competitive tickling videos, seemed, well, kind of creepy. It turns out that tickling videos on the internet are indeed creepy, but the hidden truth behind these particular videos is fascinating.
It all starts when New Zealand journalist David Farrier starts looking into videos on Youtube called “competitive tickling” videos, supposedly some kind of sport. Guys (no girls allowed) are tied down and tickled for a long time, supposedly the “winners” exhibit more endurance. It all seems so strange that Farrier contacts the company behind the videos. He gets no answers, but he does get a lot of very strange, threatening messages for his trouble.
Threats of lawsuits and representatives from the company traveling to New Zealand to make legal threats against him only spurs Farrier's determination to find out what is going on. He and his friend, Dylan Reeve, decide to make a documentary film about competitive tickling and whoever is behind the company sponsoring these so-called contests.
Farrier and Reeve travel to America, only to find out that the people behind company and the videos are very secretive and very hard to pin down. They encounter a stone wall of resistance to their inquiries. Past participants are almost all afraid to talk to them about participating in the tickling competition.
Despite the threats and despite the stonewalling, Farrier and Reeve continue their inquiries, eventually finding some participants and others involved, along with some journalists who have investigated the videos, who shine some light on the seedy, and very unfunny dark side of the tickling videos.
The film takes us through this tangled investigation, a trail of clues, intimidation, false identities, broken promises, and shadowy, reclusive, secretive people. It turns out that what is really behind the tickling videos, like so many similar obsessions, is sex, or to be more precise, a sexual fetish. It is sadomasochistic domination of people by those in power over those who have no power, or who are tricked into participating by false representations about what is really going on.
After this film was screened at the Sundance Film Festival, lawsuits were filed against the filmmakers and another person who spoke to the filmmakers in the film. One has to admire the tenacity, courage and skill of Farrier and Reeve to follow this story to its logical conclusion. I hope they come out of the lawsuits O.K. This film rates a B.
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