Edinburgh Film Festival kicks off this year with a wholly bonkers but thoroughly enjoyable film, Boyz in the Wood. It’s the feature debut of music video/short film director Ninian Doff. Set in the Scottish highlands during a Duke of Edinburgh award outing, four boys end up lost, afraid being chased by a pair of gun and sword-carrying elitists. Sounding like the set up for a horror movie? Well, Boyz is far from it. It is a delightfully eccentric and completely mental full of wacky characters and insane visuals. The film feels more like Hunt for the Wilderpeople took a lot of magic mushrooms and watched a couple horror movies.
The leading group of teens in the film bounce off each other in hilarious fashion, though entirely predictable in their archetypes. The dumb, glazed over and slightly smart friend. The leader with a questionable background. The poser, none of which are particularly interested in school and feel their lives in fish packing are already set out for them. They are joined by the straight-laced home-schooled Ian, his optimism for his future and world rubs the teens the wrong way.
The actual comedy of the film is hilarious, many one-liners made me deep belly laugh like a madman. “Everyone knows the Duke of Edinburgh award is just a place to get shitfaced” is one of the major standouts for me. The humour is quite, low brow and sometimes downright gross but that isn’t a bad thing. This is because it revolves around some of the dumbest people on the planet, which is bloody funny. One of the best ongoing gags is a rap about someone’s dick. This comes from the scene-stealing, wannabe gangster rapper, DJ Beatroot. In my opinion, the real star of the film. He has some absolute tunes; I believe he could be the next best thing.
In all seriousness, it helps that the film has a rap artist mainly due to the very music video style eccentricity and visual flair. It not only has a major music video sequence but throughout does interesting things when the characters get high on magic mushroom-laced rabbit faeces. These look akin to things seen in low budget music videos which only adds to the quirkiness and uniqueness of the film. You can feel that budget from time to time when it cuts away or completely leaves a scene when some seemingly expensive action is about to take place. In particular, one involving farmers and a ritual at night which just cuts to day time randomly as the scene is about to kick off.
Moving on to something that screams British indie film at the moment, the social messaging. In this film, it is quite ham-fisted at the end with large speeches about social class and millennials place in the world, but it doesn’t feel out of place in the world it is being released into. The film captures angst that the young people are feeling, continually being failed and told to get into line with the people of yesterday. At the same time, they scream we aren’t good enough and don’t deserve how good we have it, even when what some have isn’t as good as it could be.
So yeah, the film festival kicked off in quite cool fashion with a quirky film with great style and a fair bit of heart. It can’t be let down on predictability either as almost everything comes out of the left field to surprise, it is only let down by clear budget restraints. Some messaging that does lose a touch of subtlety, but I’m not sure I expect subtlety in a film like this. It is loud, proud and utterly bonkers, definitely one to check out when it hits Amazon Prime Video on August 7th.
Get Duked! (as its now called) is available on Amazon Prime Video from August 7th