Gotta See It to Believe It: SURFER is a Bizarre and Lovable Future Cult Classic

The spirit of God was painting His energy into your nerves.

This is one of many interesting spiritual phrases uttered from the mouth of the surfer’s… uhhh… father. Well, let’s start there. The surfer’s father is his spiritual guide throughout this film, but his father is also dead. He explains that he has resurrected himself to be a guide to his son, though he explains that he’s not really himself, calling his current form “hard jelly”.

This is basically how the film is constructed for the first half. The surfer is talking to his father, who is encouraging him to face his fear of the ocean – a fear that has kept him out of the ocean ever since he had a bad accident. Of course, the film starts to veer into a different direction about halfway through when the surfer’s father delivers a 10 minute monologue that includes him noting that God constructed his current form using squid and electricity (hence the hardened jelly… I guess). When the father’s form fails him, the son goes to see a (seemingly top secret) military doctor, who agrees to see him after reading a note that piques the doctor’s interest.

The doctor then agrees to give the surfer money to travel and ride waves all over the world. Then, we get a big surprise, which is equally uncomfortable, touching, and surprising. This is also where we learn the surfer’s name, Sage.

To discuss too much more of the plot would be a disservice to the film, its sincerity, and the true insanity of what you see on screen. The comparisons to The Room are apt, in that the film feels more sincere than anything I’ve seen in ages, if not ever. Made on a shoestring budget by a man with a vision and not much more, it has cult film written all over it. It’s clearly not what anyone could consider a traditionally “good” film not will it appeal to everyone, but there is a group of people out there that will fall in love with this movie as hard as they’ve ever fallen in love with a piece of art.

The spirituality is different than anything I’ve ever seen on film, the message is muddied at best, and the performances have an amateur melodramatic tone that is undeniable… but this film is also undeniably endearing, as far as I’m concerned. Throw in the fact that this film includes fantastic surf scenes and what you get is something in a league of its own.

Love it or hate it, this really is a must see film. Yo can’t begin to understand what it is unless you watch for yourself.

thepaintedman
Justin has been running websites since his first Geocities site in 1994, but only did he ever start covering anything of substance years later. After he stopped regularly running local concerts in Northern NJ and the greater Philly area, he knew he needed to step up his writing game if he expected to continue to get free music to listen to. He writes regularly here, at Cinapse, and at Rock on Philly... as well as on occasion at Cinepunx. He previously wrote for several other sites, but he forgets some of them and others no longer exist. He likes music, film, the Philadelphia Eagles, talking about Criminal Justice, reading Intelligence Report, and his family... not in that order. His beautiful wife is far more talented than he is and his kids far more adorable... and crazy.
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