Offbeat and Comedic Get Duked! (2020) Brings Horror to the Highlands
Title: Get Duked!
First Wide Release: August 28, 2020 (Digital/Streaming Platforms)
Director: Ninian Doff
Writer: Ninian Doff
Runtime: 87 Minutes
Starring: Samuel Bottomley, Viraj Juneja, Rian Gordon, Lewis Gribben
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
Three miscreants and an outcast trek out into the Scottish Highlands to complete a nature survivalist award. After only just beginning their journey they find themselves the target of a crazed huntsman and must fight for their life. Along the way, they cross paths with a bread thief, hallucinogenic rabbit droppings, and a pair of bumbling detectives. Fusing humor, hip hop, survivalist horror, and heart-warming coming-of-age musings, Get Duked! is a genre-blended riot of a film.
Teens meeting horror in the middle of nowhere and hooligans evolving to heroes are tales as old as time but Get Duked! brings an energized spark into the old formula with charming results. The film itself is not complex yet has a multitude of fully realized and, for the most part entertaining, subplots that keep gas in the engine of the film. Some of the dialogue regarding generational warfare seemed forced and a bit ham-fisted but thankfully it comes into play sparingly. Overall, the script mixes action, horror, and comedy into an overall enjoyable experience.
One of the easiest mistakes to make in a horror film is to create characters that are boring or unlikable, thankfully Get Duked! features an excellent cast who bring their characters to life with magnetism and gravitas. The core group of four boys is an absolute delight. About thirty minutes into the film, Get Duked! charms you into rooting for the rapscallions due to their genuine love and support for each other. Furthermore, each of the main characters gets their own arc that is realized naturally and is earned. While the acting is pretty great all around, Viraj Junejia steals the show as the adorably bad wannabe hip hop start turned Scottish highland rap sensation DJ Beatroot. The character work here is simply excellent.
What I enjoyed most from Get Duked! was the artistic contrast created by the music and setting. The film is set to an octane-fueled hip hop score but is set in the remote Scottish countryside. Furthermore, we have three main groups of people present: the delinquent city boys, the folks who live out there in the sprawling fields and hills, and the older, posh marksmen. The differences begin to ebb away as the villagers sing to their music and the boys learn to fight back in the country. The soundtrack also does a solid job of escalating tension and suspense throughout the film without feeling out of place.
Get Duked! is well made and technically proficient. I am a huge fan of the effects of this film. The hallucinogen sequences are so much fun to watch and feature a wide variety of quirks that elevate the film’s quirkiness and charm. Stimulating but not overwhelming, the team does not try and overstay their welcome in this realm. Other than the effects there is nothing else to really say here.
Director Ninan Doff does a great job of crafting a fun modern horror-comedy that injects some much-needed lightheartedness into the genre’s current offerings of the year. The pacing is fine overall except at the beginning of the third act. It feels a bit odd, but things recalibrate pretty quickly. Tonally, Get Duked! finds its groove quickly, solidifying it as a consistently tight, hilarious, and intense film. The laughs always land and plenty of different gags, recurring or otherwise, will crack a smile on anyone’s face. Doff is a first-time director and writer and I am excited to see what he will accomplish in the future.
Surprisingly, Get Duked! does poke fun at class and age in a satirical and entertaining manner. Aside from the obvious rural, city, and elite divides, there is a noticeable commentary about the differences amongst the protagonists. One of the boys even confronts another saying that he doesn’t need to pretend he’s poor when he’s been inside his house. This is important because class unity helps progress the plot along, when the elite antagonists threaten the group, they are able to band together with their fellow country folk to stave off the enemy.
Additionally, the film’s finale dives in deeper on the generational divide and how that affects the decisions of each group of characters. My favorite moment of the film is the passing down of knowledge to others about to face similar circumstances. While nothing revolutionary, other than the riot, of course, Get Duked! takes a stab at much more than other humans.
Get Duked! is an absolute blast and a must-watch for fans of lighter and more feel-good horror. It also has great potential to watch with friends. It never goes far enough to scare you, but the stakes are still high enough and so are all the characters. A riotous and eclectic gem that will surely get washed away by more high profile releases this season, Get Duked! is the perfect escapist film for contentious and uncertain times.
Overall Score? 7.5/10