Review: Snapt 3 Revives ‘90s Surf Vids

Logan Dulien’s new film doesn’t overthink it

Perhaps it was in the middle of Bay Area rapper Andre Nickatina's energetic rendition of "Ayo for Yayo" when it became clear that this was far from the typical surf movie premiere. The night started with a live show from Distractor, a local Costa Mesa band reminiscent of Devo if you traded the red pyramid hats for cowboy hats, and it would be hard to imagine a more drastic vibe shift than going from synth rock to hyphy rap to a surf movie. But in the three-ring circus that is the US Open, the whole spectacle mad a strange sort of sense.

By the time Nickatina finished his set, the main theater at the Observatory was stuffed with young Orange County hipsters who probably have no recollection of Snapt 1 and 2, but weren't about to miss the biggest premiere of US Open week. Those of us who did remember the original Snapt films recall the part-based pump-up formula that dominated surf films throughout the '90s and early '00s, and Snapt 3 picked up exactly where it's predecessors left off. From Parker Coffin to Jack Robinson to Bruce Irons, Snapt 3 spotlighted some of the hardest charging, most dynamic surfers of a generation paired with an unrelenting soundtrack.

Much like the …Lost films of the late '90s, Snapt 3 never takes itself too seriously. Between sections, interstitial clips featured goofy banter with the stars of the film and Simon Rex, better known by his stage name "Dirt Nasty." But the surfing itself is what makes Snapt 3 a truly memorable film. Standout moments include Bobby Martinez and Asher Pacey weaving through house-sized beach break barrels somewhere in Australia, an inverted stalefish by Seth Moniz that will likely rank among the best airs of all time, and a tour-de-force closing part from Mason Ho that features a mix of mutant Pipe barrels and technical trickery above the lip.

By the time the credits rolled, Snapt 3 had thoroughly made its point, which is that the correct formula for extremely entertaining surf films hasn't actually changed much since the '90s. In an era where independent surf movies seem like endangered species, Snapt shows that bringing disparate talents together is an art in itself, and when you have the right surfers in front of the lens, the actual filmmaking can take a backseat. In the case of Snapt 3, keeping things simple has never seemed smarter.

Plenty of takers for the Snapt 3 premiere at the OC Observatory. Photo: Rote

Distractor, the only opening act featuring hoola hoops. Photo: Rote

Andre Nickatina, not your typical opening act at a surf premiere. Photo: Rote

Full house at the Observatory. Photo: Rote

Nickatina, warming up the crowd. Photo: Rote

They brought out the big guns when deciding who would introduce the film. Photo: Rote

Cheeseburger, the one and only. Photo: Rote