by Hiko Mitsuzuka @TheFirstEcho
Sexual fetishes are a dime a dozen during an era in which the Internet affords millions of people the opportunity to rock their socks off in any way they deem arousing.
And for those of you not familiar with the underground phenomenon known as Competitive Endurance Tickling, journalist-director David Farrier's fascinating documentary, Tickled, will be an eye-opener.
The pop culture journalist has made a career out of reporting on off-kilter subjects, so when he receives the opportunity to look into the aforementioned "sport," his online research leads him to Jane O'Brien Media, a company behind a sizable portion of the content available to "tickle torture" fetishists. However, when he reaches out to the company for an interview, he's immediately roadblocked, receiving threats of lawsuits and disturbing responses attacking his character, urging him to stop the investigation.
Naturally, this sets off several alarms in Farrier, and his journey to understand the ins-and-outs of this bizarre industry (according to the film, it spans across the globe) takes him from his native New Zealand to Florida, where he interviews an out-and-proud fetishist who runs his own web venture...the Midwest, where he meets a former tickle torture participant who's been cyberbullied by the same shady company...New York, where he looks into the lineage of a certain Wall Street tycoon...and Los Angeles, where the documentary team briefly (and literally) lifts the curtain to reveal the source of all this digital content.
The investigation, as the trailer promises, eventually takes an eerie turn when we learn the true identity of the puppet master behind all of the threats that come at Farrier and his producers throughout the film. And from there, we're led down a detour into the murky profile of an individual who's more like Oz the Shady and Powerful.
While the payoff of this semi-exposé may not satisfy some seekers of justice, it does leave you with an unsettling feeling...and a slight hunger for more.
Tickled is now available in limited release.