15 Unforgettable Dark Comedy Movies
Dark Comedies are not your regular comedies.
No clichéd plots, slapstick jokes, or easy laughs. Dark or black comedy is probably the most evolved of the entire genre. This kind of cinema pokes fun at everything serious, even death. The idea is to lighten heavy concepts such as crime, crisis, mortality, and pretty much anything one would ideally never associate with hearty humor.
Sometimes, the funniest things we come across are things we shouldn’t necessarily be laughing at. Maybe we’re laughing, deep down, at the absurdity of a moment or idea, or the outrageousness of a situation that we simply cannot believe.
If you enjoy laughing at things people don’t usually laugh at, we’ve got the perfect picks for you.
Dark Comedy, Challenge Your Sense of Humor
Let’s say you’re the type to laugh while handling the darkest subject matters: Murder, doomsday, blackmail, and maybe even a lil’ tasty cannibalism. If so, twisted friend, you sure have arrived at the right spot to get your gallows guffaws.
Check out these ingenious masterpieces that do complete justice to this very enticing genre of comedic film-making:
Director: Larry Charles
The first Borat made waves in the world, as Sacha Baron Cohen’s titular character filmed, and convinced people they were really in a low-grade Eastern-European documentary. By fully committing to his ignorant and often offensive character, Cohen exposed some of his subjects at times to rightful humiliation, and at other times just made jokes and bits that everyone was in on. Honestly, can anyone watch Borat and ever think of wrestling the same?
The Cable Guy
Director: Ben Stiller
Perhaps the most underrated movie in Jim Carrey’s vast catalog, The Cable Guy finds the superstar actor as, well, a cable guy who’s just looking to make friends with a regular joe coming off a break-up in Matthew Broderick. Until things start to get weird. The movie is directed by a guy you may have heard of named Ben Stiller, and produced by another guy you may have heard of named Judd Apatow.
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Director: Edgar Wright
This classic zombie film stars Simon Pegg as a hapless guy trying to save his friends and not get bitten as zombies overwhelm the city. It’s also the first of three British comedy films directed by Edgar Wright (of Last Night in Soho) and written by Simon Pegg, including the also popular Hot Fuzz and The World’s End.
What We Do In The Shadows (2014)
Directors: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi
When we thought we’d seen every movie made on vampires, this masterpiece busts the typical and boring cinematic legend of the un-dead.
Here, a bunch of vamps live as roomies and try to cope with changing times. They undertake a fresher vamp and take him through the best parts of being their kind. Oh, throw in some zombies and werewolves too. It’s a party.
Burn After Reading (2008)
Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Despite a stellar cast of acting biggies, Brad Pitt shines in this outlandish movie as a grossly dimwit gym employee who’s unfortunate enough to get into a conspiracy involving the Russian Embassy with a fellow instructor.
The plot is chaotic and hilarious, coming together in the most entertaining way.
Get Out (2017)
Director: Jordan Peele
Obviously, Jordan Peele—the Academy Award-winning horror filmmaker behind both Get Out and Us—comes from a comedy background, having been a part of the cast of MadTV and leading his own comedy series in Key & Peele. Which makes sense when you watch his first movie, Get Out. Get Out is only Get Out because it’s made by someone who knows how to so perfectly line moments of humor, levity, and satire into its otherwise chilling social thriller premise. You remember the teacup scene, and some of the thrilling climactic moments, but is it the same movie without laughing at Bradley Whitford’s Dean boasting how he would’ve voted for Obama for a third time if he could?
Inglorious Basterds (2009)
Director: Quentin Tarantino
You can probably classify most of Quentin Tarantino’s movies as at least including elements of dark comedy, but Inglorious Basterds definitely goes the furthest with it. Take every WWII story you’ve heard, and add a bit of an edge (aided by great performances from Christoph Waltz, Melanie Laurent, and Brad Pitt, among others), and you’ve got a historical story without a real genre set against that very familiar WWII backdrop.
Director: Tim Burton
Our heroes, played by Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis, die almost instantly in this Tim Burton bizarro film that features posession, monsters, demons, and song and dance numbers. If you wanted the lightest dark comedy on the list, it’s certainly Beetlejuice, which might be the only feel-good movie about dying ever made.
The character of Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton), a sort of demonic spirit with a wicked sense of humor, is iconic and the namesake of the movie—but he only appears for a handful of scenes. (Which is a testament to how great Michael Keaton’s performance was.)
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
A once-famous actor, well known for playing a renowned superhero, realizes that he is fading. He intends to resurrect his career with a Broadway play. Riggan Thomson, a fading cinema star, plans to resurrect his career with a potentially successful Broadway production. However, during rehearsals, one of his co-stars is injured, which forces him to hire a new actor. There are, however, many problems faced behind the scenes, both personally as well as professionally.
Birdman has been shot uniquely, and the whole film looks like one continuous shot. Birdman won four Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best Cinematography. Michael Keaton, Edward Norton and Emma Stone received acting nominations at the Oscars as well. Michael Keaton also won his first Golden Globe in Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy category.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)
Director: Martin McDonagh
Mildred Hayes’ daughter is raped and murdered. The police, however, cannot find the person who did this. Seven months later, Mildred rents three billboards and targets the police. This leads to a series of events in the town. The film has a fantastic story and great performances by the stellar cast. The film won two Oscars for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor. Frances McDormand won her second Oscar for Best Actress for this film.
Knives Out (2019)
Director: Rian Johnshon
The death of family patriarch and celebrated novelist Harlan Thrombey makes every member of his family a subject. A renowned detective is called in to solve the mystery and find the killer. Finding the killer proves to be extremely tricky for the detective. The circumstances surrounding the death of crime novelist Harlan Thrombey are mysterious. However, there is one thing that renowned Detective Benoit Blanc knows for sure – every member of the very dysfunctional Thrombey family is a suspect.
Now, Blanc must search through a web of lies and deceit to uncover the truth. Knives Out was nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the Oscars and the BAFTAs. A sequel to Knives Out with an even bigger A-list star cast is also coming soon, where Daniel Craig will return as Detective Benoit Blanc to solve a new case.
Director: Bong Joon-Ho
A low-income family attempts to infiltrate a rich family’s home by posing as individuals with high qualifications. The struggling Kim family sees an opportunity to enjoy some luxury when the son starts working for the wealthy Park family. Soon, they find a way to work within the same household and start living a luxurious life in the posh home. The film has unexpected twists and turns and keeps you on your toes. This film heavily focuses on class differences.
The Dictator (2012)
Director: Larry Charles
Admiral General Aladeen isn’t interested in a democracy. He travels to New York, where he gets replaced by a decoy by his uncle. He must race against time to prevent his nation of Wadia from becoming a democracy. The Dictator is an Aladeen film with some Aladeen moments and is Aladeen to watch. The film is disgustingly funny like any other Sacha Baron Cohen film and barely has any dull moments. The Dictator is one film that you would try to hate, but it’s so hilarious that you simply can’t. Just like Borat, The Dictator was also banned in many Arab nations.
O Brother, Where Art Thou?(2000)
Director: Coen Brothers
Hot damn, It’s the Soggy Bottom Boys!
One of the finest dark comedy ever made, The Coen brothers helmed this tale of three escaped convicts who traverse the American South to evade the police. Loosely based on the classic epic The Odyssey, George Clooney, John Turturro, and Tim Blake Nelson star.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
Director: Terry Gilliam
Adaptation based upon a novel of the same name by the charismatic author and a journalist Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.
A misfit journalist and his crazy lawyer take off for Las Vegas, beginning a psychedelic trip that opens up the world of intoxication to the eager duo. But when their experiment turns to abuse, the high takes over everything else, including their work projects.
But they don’t stop and see whatever they can before its time to head back.