It’s rare for me to see a movie that shocks me, that leaves me unable to process what I’ve seen for hours afterward. But this is one such movie. The GF and I kept having parts of conversations for hours afterward where we attempted and failed to process what we had seen.
You should see this if you’re interested in human behaviour, in how the internet changes behavour, in true crime or in real life mysteries. But I also strongly suggest you do not learn anything about the film before you see it. Just know that it’s not really about “Competitive Endurance Tickling.”
Needless to say…
This is not a well-made film. One co-director is TV interviewer in New Zealand. The other has only ever made shorts. And it shows. The documentary is poorly written and/or edited – there’s not enough about how and why this reporter discovered CTE, for example – it is poorly paced and it doesn’t have an ending – though any ending in this situation would be purely a construct. But this is such an insane story that it doesn’t matter.
This film is really about the desire for power and control, and how that is enabled by money, and how the internet has made it easier than ever for certain types of people to manipulate more vulnerable people through promises of money.
The person who is at the centre of this story is someone who doesn’t appear to know how to interact with other human beings and who has used their inherited money and free time to actively attempt to ruin the lives of many people. I have never heard of anything like what they have done, and it’s shocking not only that someone like this has had so much success doing what they have done, but that, at this moment, that person has only been to jail once.
This is not a great film. As a film, it may not even be a good one. But this story – the story of a person who has exploited their inheritance in (nearly) the worst possible ways – needs to be experienced, not just because of what it tells us about the kinds of behaviour that human beings resort to when they don’t develop “normally,” but because it also shows us how hard it is for people like this to actually do the “evil” things that so many people believe “normal,” powerful people do.