New Zealand journalist David Farrier sets out to investigate a light weird internet story and gets more than he bargained for in the probing documentary Tickled***.

Known for quirky news stories in Auckland, Farrier is intrigued by an online video about competitive endurance tickling. Who wouldn’t be? He contacts the LA-based organisation Jane O’Brien media, only to have an abusive email sent back to him, something which immediately prompts him to dig deeper.

On the surface, the footage of young athletic males in Adidas sports gear tickling another man strapped to a floor are all you need for a funny story. But Farrier soon finds himself enmeshed in law suits and heavy threats from LA lawyers.

Farrier travels to Los Angeles to discover more and opens a can of wriggly worms which lead him down a darkly dangerous path.

This is a great little story which takes the audience along for the ride with Farrier. Some of it is feels more portentous than it actually is, but the further into the story we go, the more random its nature. It’s like doing an investigative piece yourself, with its blind alleys, chinks of hope, stake outs and moments of big reveal and tension.

I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you, but there’s megalomania and money at the heart of it, even though its still always about the tickling, which means there’s a streak of the bizarre, fetishistic side of human nature running right through it. The American legal system comes under scrutiny, as does the weird and wonderful world of the internet – but Farrier never lets us forget that, although these two forces are mighty systems with their own force, they are both ultimately driven and manipulated by humans.

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