Another 10 Dark Comedies for When You Need to Laugh Through the Pain
When we recognize that the people presenting jokes to us are, in fact, in on the joke, the entire context changes. Rather than feeling obligated to condemn behavior that is unacceptable, we can recognize the outlandishness of the actions, behaviors, or happenings, and laugh at them.
Some instances of dark humor are naturally going to go further than others. For example, it’s fair to argue that Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat character is dark comedy at its core; this character uses an audience that knows he’s not sincere to expose a number of darknesses in the world. Other examples could get more violent, like someone “accidentally” getting shot in the face in a crime movie, or someone removing their belt to tie a noose only for their pants to fall to the ground. There are different layers and different levels too dark comedy, but in any manner, you’re going to need some thick skin to appreciate it.
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Wes Anderson’s films hide their darker themes under pastel colors and quirky performances, and this one’s about a hotel manager who gets caught up in a murder mystery
Ready or Not (2019)
Ready or Not is the perfect movie to kick off this list. This story of a young woman (Samara Weaving) marrying into a rich, legacy family takes a stunning twist early and never looks back. And if you don’t know where the story goes, well, we don’t want to be the ones to tell you—but things get bloody and violent and we really scrape at human depravity. The movie sits somewhere in between horror and thriller, but throughout it remains a sharp, biting satire of class differences, and keeps audiences laughing through every twisted and dark turn.
Midsommar is one of the most disturbing movies you’ll ever see—and also one of the brightest, aesthetically, on the list. A couple of moments of brutal, can’t-get-this-out-of-your-head violence (and Florence Pugh’s most horrifying performance) are balanced by some great comedic moments from Jack Reynor and Will Poulter as fairly undeniable assholes throughout the film.
Fargo is another perfect dark comedy for this list, and might just be the crown jewel of the sprawling catalog of films belonging to writer/director duo Joel and Ethan Coen. The brothers have gotten acclaim throughout their career, but no movie better captures their style than this polite midwestern crime story that constantly steps the line between disturbing and dryly hilarious. It’s a movie so specifically in its own lane that it is now inspired by four seasons of similarly-themed television—and for good reason. It’s a modern classic.
Sorry To Bother You(2018)
Sorry to Bother You is the debut film from Boots Riley, who was previously best known for his Oakland-based hip-hop group The Coup and social activism. But he proved to be a natural with this debut satire that paints working people against its biggest villain: capitalism. LaKeith Stanfield plays Cassius, a Black man who rises through the ranks of his telemarketing firm when he realizes he can make more sales using his “white” voice. Armie Hammer is a standout as the Bezos-Esque villain.
World’s Greatest Dad (2008)
This underrated and underseen 2008 Robin Williams flick finds him as a dad with a stressed relationship with his son (Daryl Sabara from Spy Kids)—until he discovers something awful, and manipulates it. This movie takes things to a very dark place, and Williams delivers what might have been his most understated but heartbreaking performances.
Observe and Report (2009)
This movie has often been confused with Paul Blart: Mall Cop—both are about mall security guards, came out right around the same time, and have that same sort of visual look—but the movies are nothing alike. Observe and Report features one of Seth Rogen’s best performances, as a mentally ill and at times morally questionable man who we see hungry for power in his world—which just happens to be a local suburban shopping mall. There are some parts of this movie that you’d imagine Rogen and company might wish they could have back, but from top to bottom this is an entertaining, funny movie that’s just depraved and dark enough to please fans of this list.
Before Elle Woods, Reese Witherspoon played a much darker over-achiever as Tracy Flick, a girl trying desperately to win her high school class president election. The rivalry that forms between her and her teacher is, like, Game of Thrones intense.
The Lobster (2015)
This movie will bring to you the weirdest concept of love and companionship.
In a strange world, a man is abandoned by his wife, after which he must find someone else in 45 days or be ready to turn into an animal forever. Just in case he can’t, he chooses to spend the rest of his days as a lobster. But will he become one?
When a corrupt cop has to crack a murder case to get a promotion and win back his family, he starts wiping out his competitive colleagues by resorting to sick measures. His drug-fuelled, manipulative ways trap him in a surreal world that starts slipping out of control. Now, he must find and beat his inner demons first.