While not exactly the second coming of Danny Boyle, Ninian Doff clearly shows plenty of promise in Get Duked! (née Boyz in the Wood), his directorial debut—now streaming on Amazon Prime. A hilarious and biting mash-up of The Hunt and Trainspotting, with a little added whiff of Dazed and Confused, the film plays like an anti-establishment, millennial-friendly joyride full of satanic rituals, trigger-happy senior citizens, and other Monty Python-esque silliness. And if that’s not a recipe for a decent ninety minutes of movie-watching fun, you may need to check your pulse.
A trio of juvenile delinquents—DJ Beatroot (Viraj Juneja), Duncan (Lewis Gribben), and Dean (Rian Gordon)—are sent to the Scottish Highlands for a weekend of hiking, camping, and teambuilding as punishment for blowing up their school’s toilet. Also along for the weekend is the nebbish Ian (Samuel Bottomley), who is here voluntarily in order to beef up his CV for college applications. (Some kids, right?)
Left alone to fend for themselves with no phones, no transportation, and only a map to their name, the four boys head out into the Highlands with all the orienteering prowess of a pack of pampered Shih Tzus. (“All this fresh air is horrible!” one exclaims.) Just when they spot a kindly old man on a distant ridge and signal to have him lend a hand, he pulls out his trusty blunderbuss and starts blasting in their direction, naturally sending the quartet fleeing even farther into he hills.
The local constabulary, meanwhile, is dealing with a problem of its own as a bread thief has been wreaking havoc on the tiny community, but they eventually join in the Highlands goings-on, too, albeit in SMH-worthy Keystone Cop fashion.
Turns out the trigger-happy old gent is a local resident called “The Duke” (Eddie Izzard) who is none-too-pleased with the state of the world and sees the opportunity to get some target practice in on these four lads as a way to help with a little micro-ethic cleansing. What follows is a solid hour of Scottish shenanigans, as the boys (armed only with a “well-sharp fork”) prepare for battle with The Duke and his wife, who has also joined in on the action. Hallucinogenic rabbit poop, snorted hot cocoa power, and a barn-full of vigilante farmers all play a role as the hilarity unfolds like an LSD-tainted pseudo-sequel to Edgar Wright’s Hot Fuzz.
Doff, who also wrote and edited Get Duked!, shows a genuine flair for balancing outright stupidity (all involved seem to wear the film’s looniness on their sleeves) with what occasionally passes for soft-core horror. It’s a splendid mix that helps the film become one of the unexpected joys of the late summer—just enough entertainment to help you get lost in a world of zany mind-melting weirdness and take your mind off things… if only for a little while.