Some of the most memorable documentaries in film history deal with the unearthing of dark and disturbing true stories that would have remained secret if not for the bravery and determination of the filmmakers themselves.
Such is the case in the 2016 smash-hit documentary Tickled, where directors David Farrier and Dylan Reeve uncovered the dark world "competitive endurance tickling," and the man responsible for paying, blackmailing, and harassing the young men who were unfortunate enough to become wrapped up in his game. The truth behind the global scheme and the lengths Farrier and Reeve were willing to go to to find the truth make Tickled the most intense movie on HBO right now.
*Spoiler Alert: You are about to find out way more about the world of tickling than you you ever thought you would, so if you haven't watched the documentary yet, get ready.*
Read on to learn more about what makes this controversial documentary a must watch.
Farrier Stakes Out A Real-Time Tickling Competition
Eventually, Farrier and Reeve decide to stake out a filming of competitive endurance tickling. "We could hear laughter coming out of the vent," Farrier explains - the audio recording of which is truly eerie, with Ferrier reflecting on the experience in real-time, saying, "This is f*cking creepy as f*ck."
Moments later, not only do they see the three men they had previously met with and been threatened by in New Zealand, but Farrier decides to confront them.
As soon as they see Farrier, however, the threats begin once again, with the most verbally aggressive Jane O'Brien employee, Kevin, saying, "Shut the door and I'm calling the police. Bye."
Farrier did all of this knowing that pending lawsuits were already against him in both New Zealand and the U.S., making his decision to confront the video shoot that much more brave, and the scenario that much more anxiety inducing for us watching at home.
Farrier Interviews A Man With A Tickle Fetish To Better Understand The Competition
To better understand the tickling fetish, Farrier and Reeve travel to Florida to meet with Richard Ivey, another tickling fetishist who owns and runs several fetish sites.
While Ivey seems to be an honest man, with his actors and models being much more aware of what they are doing, a montage of Ivey tickling one of his models, while he is strapped down in a specially designed chair, is nonetheless, quite intense.
The actor squirms and flexes as he strains to get away from Ivey's tickling fingers, and we are forced to do nothing but watch in pure astonishment at this previously unknown subculture of bondage and fetish.
A Former Participant Recounts His Experience In The Tickling Ring
Anytime a documentary includes a faceless testimonial, you know things are getting dark. A former participant who goes by the name "Alden" recounts his experience of being caught up in the tickling ring. "It was an assault not just on me, but on my family," he says.
"It was ruining my life at the time, that's how I felt. It was certainly affecting my ability to function." Adding, "It's like you lose control of your life."
One Man Has Evidence He Was Blackmailed By Jane O'Brien Media
Thanks to David Starr, a former videographer for "Terri DiSisto" (alias Terri Tickle) - a woman who seemed to have operated in the same way as Jane O'Brien ten years previous - we get closer to the truth behind the videos, and those who have been victimized by them.
Starr explains that once he discovered the videos he was recording were being released on the Internet against the actors's will, he quit. That's when he became a target of threats with what he called the "phone blaster."
Thanks to his record-keeping, we get to hear one of the phone blasters, which is read by a robotic female voice with a British accent, making the words all the more chilling: "You have been identified as a known associate of homosexual pornographer David W. Starr," the phone blaster says. "Your phone number, personal information and your precise to David Starr are entirely known and subject to publication on the Internet."
As Starr remembers the experience, he says, "This persons on drugs. This persons gotta be on crystal or something. Or taking cocaine up the a**, or something like that! It was weird."