Get Duked!, 2020.
Written and Directed by Ninian Doff.
Starring Eddie Izzard, Kate Dickie, James Cosmo, Kevin Guthrie, Jonathan Aris, Alice Lowe, Samuel Bottomley, Viraj Juneja, Rian Gordon, Lewis Gribben, Brian Pettifer, and Georgie Glen.
An anarchic, hip-hop inspired comedy that follows four city boys on a wilderness trek as they try to escape a mysterious huntsman.
Do you know why they call it the Scottish Highlands? Well, you will find out in Ninian Doff’s (a music video creator taking a stab at writing and directing for the first time) Get Duked!, a teen stoner horror comedy that also feels like a cross between Tucker and Dale vs Evil and The Hills Have Eyes but filtered through Scottish accents and irreverent humor. It’s a blast, and even if some of its social messages towards the finale feels forced and almost out of place, marks a solid debut feature with fresh young talent nailing some tricky comedic timing. In short, everyone involved should have a bright future ahead of them.
The film centers around a group of delinquent bad apples who constantly get in trouble at school for doing things like blowing up the public toilet, forced to join forces with an overachieving loner student (Samuel Bottomley) and embark on the Duke of Edinburgh Award survival trek, intended to teach the kids the perks of orienteering, foraging, and of course, teamwork. They are taken into the wild by a faculty member of the school (Jonathan Aris) who may or may not be a murderous pedophile.
Upon encountering a mysterious stranger shooting at them, one of the boys mentioned he knows how to make a bomb. Through some rather absurd storytelling that fits here, suspicious Internet browser history catches the attention of some nearby officers (Kate Dickie and Kevin Guthrie turning in some rather hilarious performances) looking to prove their worth and nab a promotion despite no active crimes other than a bread thief to catch. This is visually demonstrated amusingly with a board ranking the priority of active crimes; the bread thief is number one before getting bumped in favor of the situation the police deem as “pedophile terrorist zombies”.
The boys themselves are also charming and develop strong enough camaraderie. Viraj Juneja’s DJ Beatroot wants nothing more than to be a gangsta rapper without knowing anything about hard times (his freestyling and catchy songs also allows Ninian Doff to splice in some music video visual flourishes), Duncan (Lewis Gribben) is the most reactionary and seems to want to prove he’s actually intelligent, while Dean (Rian Gordon) is the leader of the bad apple outcasts who in actuality are just a band of lovable losers needing to embrace each other’s dorkiness. Even when being hunted down by a strange cult they struggle coming together as a team, but naturally bond over the brisk 90-minute running time.
The narrative is pretty familiar, but the jokes are great whether it’s one of the boys turning their map of the Highlands into a joint, using a fork as a weapon, or bantering with one another about what to do next. There are even some drug-induced trips that further allow Ninian Doff to feel at home in his stylistic music video element, but the dialogue is also legitimately funny, whereas the violence strikes a balance between over-the-top and painful to look at. The film gradually introduces more characters and builds on itself, connecting in ridiculous ways that feel right with a climactic payoff that can admittedly be seen coming, but is still crowd-pleasing when it does happen. Casting veterans such as Eddie Izzard in villainous roles also does wonders.
It’s not a spoiler, but in the ending Ninian Doff implies that he plans to make a follow-up film gender-swapping the boys for a quartet of girls. Normally, it’s frustrating seeing a filmmaker get ahead of themselves thinking about sequels with everything surrounding the first from being up in the air, but Get Duked! is such a silly and charming romp bursting with laughs and death that it’s easy to anticipate more.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, friend me on Facebook, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, check out my personal non-Flickering Myth affiliated Patreon, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com