Hot Docs 2016: Tickled Review

Command + Control 

As if we needed further proof that the strange proclivities of human behaviour know no bounds, along comes Tickled. When New Zealand reporter David Farrier came across an online video from the states showing young men engaging in “competitive endurance tickling”, he was instantly intrigued. Despite the public nature of the online video, Farrier was met with extreme resistance when he began to investigate this strange sport for a potential news story. It would seem that tickle club and Fight Club share the same first two rules. This only fuels Farrier’s curiosity more, leading to a documentary that’s surprisingly thrilling and at times hilarious yet extremely uncomfortable at others.

The film takes a surprising path, the less you know about it the better. I won’t spoil the mystery any more than I already have, except to say that the rabbit hole Farrier goes down turns out to be no laughing matter. Tickled turns into an investigative documentary in line with recent popular true crime series like Serial and The Jinx. Like those stories, journalist/ filmmaker Farrier inserts himself into the narrative to an occasionally agitating level. Though I must admit, it tickled me every time Farrier’s voiceover, in his New Zealand accent, reminded me what this was really all about: tickling.

“Command + Control” is certainly a fitting program to place Tickled in. If you’re not compelled to let a documentary unsettle and puzzle you (think 2012’s Hot Doc alumni The Imposter) then perhaps this film won’t tickle your fancy. However if you want to laugh despite yourself and the discomfort of others, then strap in for a good time.


Saturday April 30, 9:45pm, Bloor Hot Docs Cinema

Monday May 2, 10:30am, TIFF Bell Lightbox 2

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