Top 10 dark comedies

Dark comedies appeal by way of finding a potent level of dry humour, lost on some, in the most disturbing and dangerous situations. Difficult to get right, this genre has nevertheless grown in popularity in recent years due to the use of satire and absurdism to bring topical themes to the surface. To celebrate the release of comic thriller In Order of Disappearance, starring Stellan Skarsgard, on September 12, we take a look at the greatest dark comedies to ever hit our screens.

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Heathers (1988) – This cult classic has gone down in cinema history for the dark and devious methods that a pair of young lovers apply to combat the social politics of high school. When Veronica (Winona Ryder) starts dating new boy at school JD (Christian Slater), she realises how much she hates her manipulative friends and jokes about ways to rebalance the student body – but JD is deadly serious.

Fargo (1996) – A Coen Brothers masterpiece, Fargo sees hapless husband Jerry (William H. Macy) plot his wife’s kidnap to relieve him of his financial problems, only for his hired henchmen’s bungling and his own ineptness to cause the plan to fall apart around him in ever increasingly gruesome ways. A true comedy of errors.

Fight Club (1999) – Fight Club remains one of the most controversial and talked about films ever created, with its dark comedy and hidden themes still relevant today. Disenchanted with the mediocrity of modern life, an office worker (Edward Norton) suffering from insomnia meets Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) and together they set up an ‘underground’ club as a visceral form of therapy that soon catches on.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005) – Often considered the most underrated film that year, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang has a sharp, dark comedy now well-associated with star Robert Downey Jr. When a common thief (Downey Jr.) poses as an actor to escape the police, he is sent to Los Angeles and becomes embroiled in a murder mystery involving his high school crush (Michelle Monaghan) and a detective (Val Kilmer) training him for his upcoming role.

In Bruges (2008) – When Ray (Colin Farrell) botches his first hit, he is sent to Bruges to lay low by gangster boss Harry (Ralph Fiennes) and struggles to embrace the tourist lifestyle necessary for him to blend in. Like most dark comedies, in Bruges became an underground hit through word of mouth, whilst re-establishing Colin Farrell as a convincing comedic actor.

Four Lions (2010) – When four friends decide to move their abstract dreams of glory into reality, they plan an attack on the unsuspecting public. Four Lions hit nerves when it was released due its farcical take on terrorism, but bubbling underneath the comedy is an important look at Muslim communities which will keep you talking way after the credits have rolled.

The Guard (2011) – In the guard, an unorthodox Irish policeman (Brendan Gleeson) with a confrontational personality is partnered with an up-tight F.B.I. agent (Don Cheadle) to investigate an international drug-smuggling ring. By revolutionizing the buddy-cop format of stereotypical crime films, The Guard has become the most successful Irish film of all time.

Seven Psychopaths (2012) – A deranged comedy that aims to satirize movie conventions and crime story’ clichés, Seven Psychopaths sees a struggling scriptwriter (Colin Farrell) inadvertently becomes entangled in the Los Angeles criminal underworld after his oddball friends (Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell) kidnap a gangster’s (Woody Harrelson) beloved Shih Tzu.

Calvary (2014) – Brendan Gleeson teams up with his “The Guard” director John Michael McDonagh for the second time and the formula continues to bring big laughs. When a priest’s (Gleeson) life is threatened during a confession, he searches for the darkness in his community as time runs out.

In Order of Disappearance (2014) – Already compared to “Fargo,” In Order Of Disappearance adds the unique brand of Scandinavian humour to the mix in a thrilling story of revenge. After his son is murdered for something he didn’t do, Nils (Stellan Skarsgard) seeks justice by tracking down the group of gangsters responsible one by one before inadvertently starting a war between two rival mobs.


About The Author

Reviews Editor, Contributor and Festival Coordinator

Ollie has written for Front Row Reviews pretty much since its inception about seven years ago whilst still studying Film & Television. Since then, he was trust into the world of independent film distribution and has recently started working with Picturehouse Entertainment in their Marketing Department. Having written and produced two radio series, he is moving hoping to (one day) write a web series/short film/feature (delete as appropriate ;)). His favourite director is David Lynch (which makes him make a lot of sense!) and his favourite films are The Hours, Mulholland Drive, Volver, Blade Runner and Bridget Jones Diary.

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