Rub­bing us up the right way

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS - TARA BRADY

TICK­LED Di­rected by David Far­rier and Dy­lan Reeve. Cert 15A, select sites, 93mins

There’s noth­ing par­tic­u­larly novel in un­cov­er­ing a freaky sex­ual fetish on the in­ter­net. Ev­ery­body knows that we’re only ever a click away from watch­ing ec­cen­tric hu­mans suck cus­tard out of tights or have sex dressed as uni­corns.

At first glance, Tick­led, a new Os­car-tipped doc­u­men­tary, re­sem­bles one of those sex­ual freaku­men­taries that oc­ca­sion­ally pop up on Channel 4.

It’s much, much weirder than that. David Far­rier, a Kiwi TV re­porter, hap­pens on a site fea­tur­ing hours of videos wherein a young man is strapped down and tick­led by other young men, all dressed in match­ing Adi­das sports-gear. This ac­tiv­ity is du­bi­ously de­scribed as a sport – com­pet­i­tive en­durance tick­ling – although tellingly, it doesn’t fea­ture in Rio this sum­mer, and they’ve got hand­ball.

Far­rier’s dis­cov­ery might have been fod­der for a 4Chan meme. But from the mo­ment he at­tempts to con­tact Jane O’Brien Me­dia, the pro­duc­tion com­pany be­hind the videos, he is met with a bar­rage of ho­mo­pho­bic slurs and le­gal threats.

In­ter­est piqued, he and his co-di­rec­tor set out to dis­cover just what on earth is go­ing on. We’ll say no more. But the viewer can look for­ward to a 20-year his­tory that in­volves a mys­te­ri­ous heir to a for­tune, the White House, the FBI and vic­tims plucked from the MMA cir­cuit.

The mood of the film and in­ves­ti­ga­tion shifts from light to men­ac­ing but Far­rier’s New Zealand brand of cool dou­bles as a kind of su­per­power, as he cheer­fully sneaks around se­cret lo­ca­tion shoots.

There are im­por­tant lessons to be learned here – such as don’t trust peo­ple of­fer­ing free ho­tels and money on the in­ter­net. More mean­ing­fully, Tick­led of­fers an anatomy of in­tim­i­da­tion that feels par­tic­u­larly rel­e­vant for our post-Gamer­gate times.

As you like it: a com­peti­tor gets ready in Tick­led

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