8 Dark Comedies You Need to See

Balance is key to a lot of things in life, films included. Some dramas include a character for comic relief, and empathy is paramount to ground a light-hearted plot. Horror and drama contrast greatly with humor, but they’ve come together to make a niche genre of film: the dark comedy. This blend of serious and funny or creepy and cringy can create a solid project that’s good to watch no matter what mood you’re in. Below are eight of my favorite dark comedies, the kind I’ll watch over and over and still enjoy.

Little Miss Sunshine

Set in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Little Miss Sunshine follows the Hoover family as they journey across states to take seven-year-old Olive to her first ever beauty pageant finals in California. The Hoover family is nothing shy of bizarre but remains entirely relatable in their quirky dynamics with each other. Including talk about suicide, a vow of silence, death of a loved one, and way too much glitter and sparkle for them to handle, Little Miss Sunshine will have you laughing and crying—usually at the same time.

Heathers

Before Regina George wreaked havoc at North Shore High, the Heathers tormented and amazed everyone in this 1988 box office hit. Winona Ryder plays protagonist Veronica Sawyer, who endures three drama queens—all named Heather—as they rule the school. Veronica meets J.D. (Christian Slater) and falls in love with him all while being at the center of murders, funerals, and multiple near-death experiences. Heathers accomplishes both horror and comedy with metaphysical narrations by Veronica and the absurd killings of some of the most popular people at her school.

ScreamWhen Wes Craven directed Scream, he made sure to include a heavy dose of dark humor throughout the movie. By using common tropes, and even directly referencing iconic scary films of the past, the masked killer asks so many questions he almost sounds like a talk show host. Released in 1996, Scream has aged in a way that makes funny moments even better. Certain outfits and special effects just don’t make the cut for “scary” nowadays, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable.

TeethGrowing up in the literal shadow of a nuclear power plant, protagonist Dawn lives a life of conservative clothes, chastity vows and a mysterious health condition. Though certain aspects of Teeth aren’t humorous at all—including sexual violence—Dawn soon discovers she has a secret weapon. Awkward teen comedy comes together with dark, twisted secrets. And when certain. . . parts of her assaulters are chomped off, fake blood and over dramatic screams make a perfect mix of gore and humor. What can I say? They got what was coming to 'em.

American PsychoPatrick Bateman seems perfect in every way -- Handsome, intelligent, rich, and cultured -- and he even has the picture perfect morning routine to prove it. Though various crimes and murders flesh out the film, it has moments that focus on the shallowness of business in Manhattan that’ll really crack you up. Whether it’s eggshell versus cream-colored business cards or snorting cocaine in the bathroom, Patrick narrates American Psycho so nonchalantly, you almost forget he’s a psycho.

American Beauty

During his mid-life crisis, Lester Burnham finds himself attracted to his teenage daughter’s best friend (he ignores how disgusted his daughter is by this.) Meanwhile, Lester's wife is a realtor with a passion for perfection. While the Burnhams live in their strange ways, a video camera-obsessed, drug-dealing boy named Ricky moves next door. His dad is extreme ex-military and collects Nazi plates while his mom is largely absent and talks to herself. Oh, and Lester tells you within the first minute of the film that he’ll be dead soon. The definition of dark comedy, American Beauty is iconic in both its imagery and dialogue.

Inglourious Basterds

Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds is similar to his other films in that it combines an elaborate aesthetic with wit and action, not to mention absolutely divine characters. German-occupied France serves as the setting for Nazi hunters to scour the countryside and towns for any opportunity to overthrow them. The movie is dramatic, action-packed and cunning while sprinkling in ironies and social critiques that make this Tarantino film one of my favorites.

The Addams Family

One of the most iconic families on television is creepy and kooky, mysterious and spooky, and of course altogether ooky. I’m sorry, but name another family that checks all those boxes. While their home is haunted and filled with medieval torture devices, the Addams' find their love is stronger than any dark or twisted obstacle could be. The characters enjoy their dangerously creepy lifestyle with vigor, and inspire those of us biased to the dark side to embrace it.

The dark comedy is a perfect segue between Summer and Fall. I’m not splashing in a pool anymore, but I’m also not carving pumpkins yet. Before Halloween takes over and horror movies take up most of our weekends, I like to sit and watch something with a streak of humor. Consider putting these on your September watchlist, and enjoy a perfect mix of two incredibly different genres.

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