Get Duked doesn’t waste any time, laying out its premise in the very first scene: three juvenile delinquent chavs are “volunteered” by their schoolmasters for the Duke of Edinburgh Award, an outdoor program meant to build character for wayward youths. The movie immediately shows off its amped-up, in-your-face style, complete with stylized cartoon cutaways scored by fast-forwarded dialogue. It announces Get Duked as a genuinely bold effort if nothing else, though its effect becomes less potent as the movie progresses.
But back to the (minimal) plot. Troublemaker Dean (Rian Gordon), dimwitted pyromaniac Duncan (Lewis Gribben), and hip-hop wannabe DJ Beatroot (Viraj Juneja) make up the expedition, along with dorky straight-edge Ian (Samuel Bottomley) who’s participating voluntarily to beef up his college application. After being dropped off to hike to a campsite on their own, the boys find themselves being hunted by a mysterious figure (Eddie Izzard) dressed as the duke of Edinburgh. Completely isolated in the Scottish Highlands, the boys must find a way to evade the stranger and his associates if they want to make it out alive.
Get Duked’s brash, hyper-stylized approach can be fresh and funny in small doses. Other times, it’s just plain grating, often by way of the obnoxious dubstep-rap soundtrack. There’s a go-for-broke ambition in the movie’s stylistic choices, but they’re too inconsistent and scattershot to always work. When the movie suddenly transforms into a full-fledged music video at the halfway point, it’s simply too much – that said, you won’t likely forget it anytime soon.
Unlike the superior Severance, with which it shares a fair amount of DNA, Get Duked hasn’t got a real horror-movie bone in its body. The slasher setup lets the movie mine humor from some dark sources, but its jokey tone robs it of any real weight. Though the plot’s one-percenters vs. middle-class youths conceit makes some stabs at satire, it’s not sharp enough to make any lasting impact. The whole thing is fundamentally insubstantial, devoid of any meaningful stakes or commentary, so it falls on the comedy to see the movie through.
Here Get Duked finds more success, thanks largely to its likable foursome of protagonists. The delinquents may not be the smartest or most mature trio, but they’re too harmless to be unpleasant. Ian, though very much a character type, is the most unique member of the group; the lines separating the other three can get pretty blurry. When it’s operating as a high-concept hangout comedy, Get Duked is funny and light on its feet, so much so that the faux-horror often feels like an afterthought. The bad guys never get enough screen-time to make much of an impression, with Eddie Izzard appropriately campy but underused.
The movie’s script proves to be quite anemic, even for its brisk running time. A desperately broad subplot about the bumbling local police is obvious filler, bloating a midsection that struggles to advance the story. Get Duked banks on its lively energy and cast of characters to carry it through, a bet that narrowly pays off. Both too niche and not distinctive enough to live on as anything but a streaming curiosity, it still makes for an intriguing watch.