GET DUKED! (originally titled Boyz in the Wood) is the feature film debut from writer/director Ninian Doff which follows four city boys who go on a wilderness adventure only to be hunted by two mysterious figures. The horror/comedy stars Eddie Izzard, Kate Dickie, Samuel Bottomley, Viraj Juneja, Rian Gordon, and Lewis Gribben.

To best describe the film, I’ll turn to the official synopsis: “Dean, Duncan and DJ Beatroot are teenage pals from Glasgow who embark on the character-building camping trip – based on a real-life program – known as the Duke of Edinburgh Award, where foraging, teamwork and orienteering are the order of the day. Eager to cut loose and smoke weed in the Scottish Highlands, the trio finds themselves paired with straight-laced Ian, a fellow camper determined to play by the rules. After veering off-path into remote farmland that’s worlds away from their urban comfort zone, the boys find themselves hunted down by a shadowy force hell-bent on extinguishing their futures.”

GET DUKED! is one of those films that took me completely by surprise. Featuring tremendous acting from all involved, the film, which features comedic and horror elements intertwined together, is just as funny as it is poignant with a socio-political theme that ultimately takes a look at the treatment of teenagers in society. Not only is the film hilarious, but it’s also a heartfelt tale about the bonds of friendship and how even the most unlikely of people can become a hero.

What really drives this film is the genuine chemistry and performances by our four leads: Samuel Bottomley (“Ian”), Viraj Juneja (“DJ Beatroot”), Rian Gordon (“Dean”), and Lewis Gribben (“Duncan”). On the surface, it’s easy to brush these characters off as nothing more than problematic teens causing havoc and mayhem. But as the film progresses, they shed that pre-conceived stereotype that society has laid upon them so as to show their true selves. That doesn’t mean that the surface level of what they outwardly show is fake, it just means that they are more than the stereotype they are given. Furthermore, they have to shed that layer of vulnerability in order to come together as one to defeat their attackers. Speaking of which, the attackers, outfitted in half-masks that made me think of Leatherface, are a symbol of the old way of thinking. Though I’m not overly familiar with European politics, it was easy to see the parallels between them and what many Americans are facing under the rule of Trump. This film is a reminder that someday the youth will take over and make the world a better place, a theme that I can gladly get behind.

Samuel Bottomley, Viraj Juneja, Lewis Gribben, and Rian Gordon star in GET DUKED! | Photo Credit: Brian Sweeney/Amazon Studios

Writer/director Ninian Doff does a tremendous job of bringing his story to life. He utilizes his background as a music video director to make the tone and presentation of the film one that is energetic and over the top. This is applied beautifully during a scene in which DJ Beatroot does a hip-hop ballad with some of the farmers in the Scottish Highland after taking loads of drugs in the form of rabbit droppings. Like some of the scenes in Midsommar, this segment is filled with pulsating hallucinogenic imagery that takes the viewer on a wild journey as DJ Beatroot drops the beats in tune with the unfolding insanity. Additionally, I really enjoyed the crazy dichotomy between these types of surreal moments set within the backdrop of the Scottish Highlands. Cinematographer Patrick Meller captured the sprawling beauty of the landscape to indicate just how vast, peaceful, and desolate the area is – which only adds to the severity of the situation that these boys have found themselves in.

For those wondering how horror-filled this movie is – believe me, there will be enough thrills, chills, and gore to fulfill the appetite of fans of the genre. There are moments when bodies are completely crushed, sword fights take place, and people are run-over. As I mentioned above, our hunters are outfitted as though they are high-class versions of Leatherface and honestly, if that doesn’t make you giggle in anticipation then what will? Additionally, the one and only Eddie Izzard play the role of the main villain, The Duke. His performance was terrific and it wasn’t until I looked up the cast list after finishing the film that I even knew it was him!

Overall, GET DUKED! is one of the best films of 2020. It’s hilarious, heartfelt, and over-the-top in a way that’ll make you want to revisit it often. Not many films can pull off a hysterical horror/comedy while also featuring important themes and messages, but GET DUKED! more succeeds in doing that.

GET DUKED! is now available worldwide on Amazon Prime Video. The film is rated R for drug content, language throughout including sexual references, and some violence/bloody images.

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