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‘Surfer: Teen Confronts Fear’ (review)

Review by David J. Moore

Produced by Douglas Burke
Written and Directed by Douglas Burke
Starring Sage Burke, Douglas Burke,
Gerald James,
Analia Lenchantin,
Maria Tomas Griffin, Alex Angelikis


On the periphery of cinematic trolling is an elite realm where audiences simply don’t know how to handle what they’re watching. They make up terms like “It’s so bad, it’s great,” or “If you like Sharknado, you’ll love this!” or “It’s this year’s The Room!” as if those are ways of describing the alien nature of something that is quite simply indefinable. What did people think when they saw Georges Méliès A Trip to the Moon for the first time, or The Great Train Robbery in 1903?

How were people able to process with their eyes what they were beholding?

It must have been frightening, strange, and completely humbling to know that humans had endeavored to create what could not have possibly been created, aside from sorcery and arcane knowledge curated from the beyond.

In this post-miraculous age when we’ve seen everything and heard every conceivable sound in rock, pop, and classical music, we’ve come to believe that there’s nothing new under the sun. CGI is life. Life is mustered and sustained through corn-fed meat, and soy has masked the taste of true milk chocolate. How can there be anything stimulating or original anymore, especially at the cinema?

Friends and cinephiles, I bequeath you your quest: Seek out and find writer / director / star / composer Douglas Burke’s one-in-a-zillion rock from the stars curio coming of age meditation piece Surfer: Teen Confronts Fear, which is currently quietly taking the midnight movie circuit by storm.

It bears a resemblance to nothing produced before. It is like the touch of an angel’s wing, tickling the void of your own understanding. It requires repeat viewings, preferably with an audience who each experience it on a completely different level to your own. It elicits laughs. It demands deep thinking. To think you comprehend it is like saying you have cracked the code of your own DNA after observing a blood sample under a toy microscope. In other words, whatever you think you know or understand about this movie is false. It is a true cult film, and it must be seen to be believed.

Douglas Burke, a doctor of philosophy and physics, who stars and shoulders the weight of the entire film, stars as the resurrected father to a young lad named Sage (played by Burke’s real-life son), who has recently had a spiritually and emotionally wounding surfing experience that is keeping him from finding his inner strength and confidence when it comes to surfing. Sage beholds his dad, who tells him he’s a sea creature come to instill the spirit of strength back into him so that he can surf those waves again. Wide-eyed and shell-shocked Sage struggles with comprehending such a challenge, especially as it’s coming from his long-absent guru of a father. But Sage takes it on faith and spends the rest of the movie struggling to understand and embrace the wonders that await him should he find his sea legs again.

There’s some crazy stuff about government secrets and covert agents too, but that’s just icing on the cake. Burke, who makes his feature film auteur debut with Surfer: Teen Confronts Fear is next level hypnosis for the disenchanted and disheartened moviegoer. It’s a spiritual odyssey, it’s a confounding and befuddling effort of storytelling and story structure, it’s a multi-pronged arrow that pierces places of your psyche, and it’s like nothing else you’re ever going to see again. Burke spent years of his life making this thing, and yet it has an impromptu, film-on-the-fly aesthetic that could never be duplicated by even the greatest of filmmakers out there. It is by any other term a cult classic.

3 Stars for Story / 5 Stars for overall effort

Check for upcoming screenings.



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