I must admit, this article was a last minute decision. I knew I wanted to put together a top 10 list, but then I started to realise that there are only so many top 10 film related lists that can be compiled. The lists are going to become more and more obscure until eventually you end up listing things like your top 10 favourite films starring LL Cool J…
Deep Blue Sea (1999) was alright though wasn’t it?
The topic of black comedies came to me and when I started to mentally collate my favourite films I got incredibly excited to put this article together, to the point that I could now quite happily re-watch these films, one after the other. So I hope you enjoy this list as much as I did compiling it.
10. In Bruges (2008)
Martin McDonagh directs this comedic crime drama which follows two hitmen Ray (Colin Farrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson) who are under orders to travel to Bruges to lay low after a hit that resulted in an accidental death of a child. Unaware of their boss’ intentions, Ray and Ken go about sightseeing whilst Ray battles boredom and guilt. Ray and Ken find themselves in some quite surreal circumstances and hilarity ensues. I thoroughly enjoyed Ray’s character and how Farrell and Gleeson played off of each other.
Directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, Little Miss Sunshine tells the story of the dysfunctional Hoover family who together travel across country in their old, rickety VW van to ensure their daughter Olive gets to partake in a beauty pageant. LMS deals with some dark themes like death, addiction, depression and suicide but the focus is really on the families love for each other regardless of their downfalls. It may be a black comedy but it is still a feel-good film and the commentary on child beauty pageants is fantastic.
Drew Goddard took his first step into directing with The Cabin in the Woods. Written by him and Joss Whedon, this film takes the well used “cabin in the woods” trope and turns it on its head. With perfect casting and overtones of classic Whedon humour, TCITW is incredibly clever and sheer brilliance.
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Stanley Kubrick directs this satire about the unhinged Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden) who manages to trigger a nuclear attack without the go ahead from his superiors. On hearing the news, various politicians and generals in the war room are now against the clock to try and prevent the disaster. Peter Sellers, who played three characters in the war room, improvised most of his lines in this hilarious yet important piece of comedy.
Ben Wheatley ventures into comedy after his disturbing yet brilliant Kill List (2011). Alice Lowe plays awkward and sheltered Tina who is whisked away by boyfriend Chris (Steve Oram) on an action packed caravanning holiday to amazing British sites such as the Keswick Pencil Museum and the Ribblehead Viaduct. Eventually their road trip careens out of control resulting in Tina and Chris leaving a trail of bodies in their wake. Wheatley takes the extremely mundane and uneventful typical British holiday and turns it into a hilariously dark murderfest.
I adore Bobcat Goldthwait’s hard critique on modern society which follows Frank (Joel Murray) and Roxy’s (Tara Lynne Barr) murder spree to rid society of its assholes and idiots, to which they have both had their fill. God Bless America is like one of those day dreams you have at the end of the day when you have had an overdose of your daily cretin encounters. Or maybe it’s just me…
Bruce Robinson directs this classic comedy about two friends, Withnail (Richard E. Grant) and Marwood (Paul McGann), who are desperate and unemployed actors who go on holiday by mistake. Whist living in abject poverty and squalid living conditions, Marwood suggests a holiday at his Uncle Monty’s country cottage as respite, but soon they are both faced with situations that leave them more stressed and unhappy than when they started.
This film adaptation by Mary Harron of the novel by Bret Easton Ellis tells the story of well-groomed Wall Street yuppie Patrick Bateman. Bateman is a sociopath with an insatiable lust for blood that he is unable to control. As his predilections start to impose on his otherwise well chiselled and perfected daytime persona, his world begins to spin out of control. Whilst this film wasn’t so greatly received by fans of the novel, I honestly feel as a standalone film it is a masterpiece and is Christian Bale‘s finest acting work to date.
There are few stupid comedies that you could confidently call a stroke of genius, and that is exactly what Tucker and Dale is! Much like TCITW, T&D Vs Evil takes the hillbilly trope and flips it on its head, but in a far more entertaining way. Lovable Tucker (Tyler Labine) and Dale (Alan Tudyk) are on vacation in their “fixer-upper” cabin. Whilst out fishing they encounter a group of college kids who deduct that because they are hillbillies in the woods, they must be murderers. T and D find themselves fighting for their lives whilst simultaneously trying to convince the kids that they mean no harm.