He quit his high profile presenting role at TV3 to chase his movie-making dreams - and it seems that decision has paid off for David Farrier.

The former Newsworthy presenter's documentary debut Tickled premiered at Sundance yesterday, and it's earned rave reviews.

Not much is known about the film: Farrier and his co-director Dylan Reeve have been wary of giving away too many spoilers, but it involves Farrier investigating the bizarre world of competitive tickling in America.

That hasn't stopped reviewers heaping praise on it, with The Hollywood Reporter calling it "jaw-dropping".


"As (Farrier) and Reeve deal with threats, warnings and nervous producers, Farrier's dry Kiwi humour infuses the proceedings with a relaxed energy that somehow makes the underlying tension all the more effective," wrote reviewer Sheri Linden.

"By the time Tickled fades out, no one is laughing."

Variety reviewer Dennis Harvey was also positive.

"The documentary's first big reveal arrives a little more than halfway through, and more twists will follow, with a mysterious zip file and a treasure trove of online documents tracking the digital-age saga to Long Island high schools, a Wall Street law firm and federal crimes," he wrote.

"The well-shot and tightly edited pic manages to maintain a sense of humor without belittling its subjects, and glimpses a somewhat gamey underworld without descending into a tabloid-style shocking expose."

Screendaily called it "unexpectedly compelling, alternately painful and funny and deeply sad".

"Farrier's perky narration, half indignant, half tongue-in-cheek, and the confrontational, hidden-camera style of some of the film's investigative sequences, remind us of one of those exposés British comedian/journalist John Oliver used to do on The Daily Show before he became too well-known," wrote reviewer Lee Marshall.

Viewers of the film also raved about it on Twitter.

It's the second New Zealand film to do well at Sundance after Taika Waititi's Hunt For the Wilderpeople debuted to positive reviews on Saturday.

- nzherald.co.nz