I’m so damn stoked surfing has arrived at this point in history. Or arrived back at this point in history, maybe. Who would have thought, even ten years ago, that it would be perfectly normal to plop down and watch a feature-length surf film with surfers on logs, and gliders, and fish, and asymm pickleforks, and whatever the hell Ozzie Wright surfs. That it wouldn’t be some kind of deep dive into the meaning of alternative surf craft or some other kind of navel-gazing bullshit. That a film like that would just be about surfing and having fun and nothing at all else. Because that’s Jack Coleman’s new flick “Zone Frequency” and, at least to this reviewer, it’s welcome and rad and the most fun surf movie in years.
Also, more surf movies should begin with Neil Young quotes, as this one does.
Coleman’s films are usually more experimental than this, which, depending on your tastes, can sometimes be hard to watch. But for the most part, Coleman tones down the auteur elements in this one, in favor of letting the actual surfing be the art, not the filmmaker’s command of the craft.
It begins with Bryce Young ripping a massive turn on a, well, a surfboard, I guess–lord knows what’s happening fin-wise on the bottom of that board, it defies easy classification. This alerts the viewer that, yes, even though this is the filmmaker who’s probably best known for his kaleidoscopic-tinged clips of long-haired dudes riding single fins posted to the Mollusk website, he can also bring you some hi-fi shredding too, so, pay attention.
In general, Young’s surfing is always something to be paid attention to. One could make an argument that this film hints, in a way, at Young being one of the most well-rounded boardriders on the planet. Run-of-the-mill logs? Young’s got those dialed. High-flying asymms? Well, that’s the guy’s bread and butter and he’ll blow you away in this film. He’s mastered a variety of surf craft and it’s terrific that surfers like Young are out there riding whatever works, damn everything else but how it feels.
Were you wondering what Gavin Beschen has been up to? It won’t surprise you that the answer is living the dream on the North Shore, getting barreled and raising a family. But he’s here, refreshingly, part of an eclectic cast that, in addition to Young, Wright, and Beschen, also features Ryan Burch, Derrick Disney, Asher Pacey, Andy Nieblas, Ari Browne, Eric Snortum (remember, Burch’s buddy in “Stoked and Broke?”) and Rangi Ormond.
Young is the runaway star here, but there’s plenty of terrific surfing from Wright and Burch. Pacey’s section is white-hot. Browne will have you taking a sledgehammer to your fins.
Notice anything about the cast? Well, yeah, lots of those guys kinda look alike. Everybody has long hair and a misshapen beard/stubble thing going on. It’s sorta hard to tell who is who at certain points. A stylish dude whips his hair and longish-fish type board around, sure, but which one? That quibble aside, this is a delight of a surf film. Fun, not overly serious, and longer than three minutes. A rarity in 2019.