Catfish meets The Jinx.  The HBO doc Tickled starts out innocent enough.  A New Zealand journalist, David Farrier, who specializes in light-hearted, quirky stories like funny animals and youtube sensations comes across a “competitive endurance tickling” circuit online.  He reaches out to the American company that hosts these events for an interview and receives an aggressively scathing message back, requesting that he drop the story and never contact them again.  Hmmmm?  You know how you can tell if someone is hiding something based on how wildly they react to an accusation?  Like a certain someone proclaiming “NOBODY has more respect for women than I do!” or Rafael Palmeiro wagging his finger in Congress’s face?  Yeah, by simply ignoring his email Farrier and his partner may have just moved along, however the vehement nature in which they were told “nothing to see here” led them to keep digging.  And digging.  AND DIGGING.  Ultimately the two journalists travel to the United States and go down a giant rabbit hole trying to unmask a legitimately sinister identity straight out of a Bond movie.  Sometimes the best documentaries start out as one thing and the filmmakers stumble into uncovering something entirely different and more interesting.  This is one of those times.  Fair warning, the tickling scenes in this documentary range from semi to all the way disturbing.  Streaming on HBO.  Grade: B-


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