The 60 Best Black Comedies, Ranked by Tomatometer
(Photo by Focus Features/Courtesy Everett Collection. Thumbnail image: New World/courtesy Everett Collection; Neon / courtesy Everett Collection.)
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: The 60 Best Dark Comedies, Ranked by Tomatometer!
All this Dirty Roulette dark material ranges in variation of glib macabre glee, different styles that we’ll touch upon in our selection of the best-reviewed funny black comedies. Most common are movies about murder and the subsequent covering-up, especially when the corpses have a habit of popping up at the most inconvenient times. Think Best Picture-winning Parasite, Fargo, Burn After Reading, and Hitchcock’s The Trouble With Harry.
Another style of the black comedy movie: Mining jokes out of political fallout when millions of lives are at stake, as seen in Dr. Strangelove, In the Loop, and The Producers. Or how about movies that get you on the serial killer’s side, like being on the ride for The Voices or Monsieur Verdoux. They twist you around enough to make you feel amusingly guilty hoping they’ll get away with it all.
The emergence of the black comedy movie seemed to come around in the 1940s, when filmmaking had evolved enough to artistically interpret real-world horrors (e.g. World War II) with mordant humor, as seen in To Be or Not to Be and Arsenic and Old Lace. Of course, how would they have known their groundbreaking path through the dark side would eventually come to the taboo of cannibalism, as seen in appetizing films like Delicatessen and Eating Raoul? And lest you assume we’re not in touch with our more subtle side when it comes to comedy of the damned, we’ve included philosophical destroyers Who’s Afraid of Virgina Woolf?, Carnage, and the brilliant Withnail and I.
Major players in the realm of dark comedies include status quo-defecating John Waters (Multiple Maniacs, Pink Flamingos), Martin McDonagh (In Bruges, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Todd Solondz (Happiness, Welcome to the Dollhouse), and the devilish Danny DeVito (The War of the Roses, Ruthless People). Our final stipulation for their movies and everything else on the list is that each had to be rated Fresh, and have at least 20 reviews, to ensure enough critics have shared in the gleeful discomfort.
It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad (feel free to keep adding more) world out there these days: Grab life by the ruffled lapel and throw it into the wood chipper with The 60 Best Black Comedies, Ranked!
Adjusted Score: 70585%
Critics Consensus: Good and evil collide with interesting results in Adam’s Apples, a dark Biblical allegory that’s alternatively funny and shocking.
Adjusted Score: 76449%
Critics Consensus: It isn’t as compelling on the screen as it was on the stage, but Carnage makes up for its flaws with Polanski’s smooth direction and assured performances from Winslet and Foster.
Adjusted Score: 75832%
Critics Consensus: Undeniably uneven and too dark for some, The Ref nonetheless boasts strong turns from Denis Leary, Judy Davis, and Kevin Spacey, as well as a sharply funny script.
Adjusted Score: 77967%
Critics Consensus: The Voices gives Ryan Reynolds an opportunity to deliver a highlight-reel performance — and offers an off-kilter treat for fans of black comedies.
Adjusted Score: 77756%
Critics Consensus: Better Off Dead is an anarchic mix of black humor and surreal comedy, anchored by John Cusack’s winsome, charming performance.
Adjusted Score: 78913%
Critics Consensus: Robert Zemeckis’ pitch-black satire of American culture doesn’t always hit the mark, but it’s got enough manic comic energy to warrant a spin.
Adjusted Score: 78407%
Critics Consensus: A modern update on the tale of Little Red Riding Hood, Freeway is an audacious black comedy with a star-making performance from the young Reese Witherspoon.
Adjusted Score: 85537%
Critics Consensus: A gloriously rude and gleefully offensive black comedy, Bad Santa isn’t for everyone, but grinches will find it uproariously funny.
Adjusted Score: 88946%
Critics Consensus: With Burn After Reading, the Coen Brothers have crafted another clever comedy/thriller with an outlandish plot and memorable characters.
Adjusted Score: 82833%
Critics Consensus: Catch-22 takes entertainingly chaotic aim at the insanity of armed conflict, supported by a terrific cast and smart, funny work from Buck Henry and Mike Nichols.
Adjusted Score: 86615%
Critics Consensus: Violent, darkly comic, and full of strong performances, Killer Joe proves William Friedkin hasn’t lost his touch, even if the plot may be too lurid for some.
Adjusted Score: 85834%
Critics Consensus: Uproarious and appalling, Pink Flamingos is transgressive camp that proves as entertaining as it does shocking.
Adjusted Score: 84891%
Critics Consensus: A high-concept high school reunion movie with an adroitly cast John Cusack and armed with a script of incisive wit.
Adjusted Score: 83579%
Critics Consensus: Happiness is far from a cheerful viewing experience, but its grimly humorous script and fearless performances produce a perversely moving search for humanity within everyday depravity.
Adjusted Score: 93257%
Critics Consensus: T2 Trainspotting adds an intoxicating, emotionally resonant postscript to its classic predecessor, even without fully recapturing the original’s fresh, subversive thrill.
Adjusted Score: 91969%
Critics Consensus: Seven Psychopaths delivers sly cinematic commentary while serving up a heaping helping of sharp dialogue and gleeful violence.
Adjusted Score: 83974%
Critics Consensus: The Brand New Testament takes a surreal, subversive, and funny look at Biblical themes through a modern — and refreshingly original — lens.
Adjusted Score: 85993%
Critics Consensus: Men & Chicken‘s bizarre setup only skims the surface of a challenging, well-acted comedy with a warm heart to match its grotesque visuals and dark themes.
Adjusted Score: 86555%
Critics Consensus: Its premise suggests brazenly tasteless humor, but Four Lions is actually a smart, pitch-black comedy that carries the unmistakable ring of truth.
Adjusted Score: 89682%
Critics Consensus: Hal Ashby’s comedy is too dark and twisted for some, and occasionally oversteps its bounds, but there’s no denying the film’s warm humor and big heart.
Adjusted Score: 91455%
Critics Consensus: The Art of Self-Defense grapples compellingly with modern American masculinity — and serves as an outstanding calling card for writer-director Riley Stearns.
Adjusted Score: 91557%
Critics Consensus: Featuring witty dialogue and deft performances, In Bruges is an effective mix of dark comedy and crime thriller elements.
Adjusted Score: 88359%
Critics Consensus: The War of the Roses is a black comedy made even funnier by hanging onto its caustic convictions — and further distinguished by Danny DeVito’s stylish direction.
Adjusted Score: 91711%
Critics Consensus: Tongue-in-cheek satire blends well with entertaining action and spot-on performances in this dark, eclectic neo-noir homage.
Adjusted Score: 97500%
Critics Consensus: With a talented cast turned loose on a loaded premise — and a sharp script loaded with dark comedy and unexpected twists — Game Night might be more fun than the real thing.
Adjusted Score: 86648%
Critics Consensus: Eating Raoul serves up its spectacularly lurid tale with a healthy heaping of pitch-black humor and anarchic vigor.
Adjusted Score: 88354%
Critics Consensus: In Order of Disappearance‘s black comedy doesn’t always hit its targets, but on the whole, it still adds up to a sly, entertaining revenge thriller.
Adjusted Score: 94358%
Critics Consensus: Led by strong performances from Aubrey Plaza and Elizabeth Olsen, Ingrid Goes West delivers smart, topical humor underlined by timely social observations.
Adjusted Score: 90516%
Critics Consensus: Director John Waters’ affection for camp brings texture to societal transgression in Female Trouble, a brazenly subversive dive into celebrity and mayhem.
Adjusted Score: 92300%
Critics Consensus: Gleefully nasty and darkly hilarious, Cheap Thrills lives down to its title in the best possible way.
Adjusted Score: 91866%
Critics Consensus: World’s Greatest Dad is a risky, deadpan, dark comedy that effectively explores the nature of posthumous cults of celebrity.
Adjusted Score: 98675%
Critics Consensus: As strange as it is thrillingly ambitious, The Lobster is definitely an acquired taste — but for viewers with the fortitude to crack through Yorgos Lanthimos’ offbeat sensibilities, it should prove a savory cinematic treat.
Adjusted Score: 94210%
Critics Consensus: Bursting with frantic energy and tinged with black humor, After Hours is a masterful — and often overlooked — detour in Martin Scorsese’s filmography.
Adjusted Score: 93982%
Critics Consensus: Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet deftly combines horror, sci-fi, and humor in Delicatessen, a morbid comedy set in a visually ravishing futuristic dystopia.
Adjusted Score: 93357%
Critics Consensus: An outstanding sophomore feature, Welcome to the Dollhouse sees writer-director Todd Solondz mining suburban teen angst for black, biting comedy.
Adjusted Score: 99757%
Critics Consensus: A hilarious satire of the business side of Hollywood, The Producers is one of Mel Brooks’ finest, as well as funniest films, featuring standout performances by Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel.
Adjusted Score: 97241%
Critics Consensus: Blending dark humor with profoundly personal themes, the Coen brothers deliver what might be their most mature — if not their best — film to date.
Adjusted Score: 110517%
Critics Consensus: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri deftly balances black comedy against searing drama — and draws unforgettable performances from its veteran cast along the way.
Adjusted Score: 94118%
Critics Consensus: As proudly tacky as its titular fabric, Polyester finds writer-director John Waters moving ever so slightly into the mainstream without losing any of his subversive charm.
Adjusted Score: 93718%
Critics Consensus: The Firemen’s Ball is an uproarious comedy of incompetence, mining laughs and sharp satire from an allegory that is amusing and distressing in equal measure.
Adjusted Score: 95985%
Critics Consensus: A brutal, often times funny, other times terrifying portrayal of drug addiction in Edinburgh. Not for the faint of heart, but well worth viewing as a realistic and entertaining reminder of the horrors of drug use.
Adjusted Score: 108868%
Critics Consensus: A thrilling leap forward for director Alejandro GonzÃ¡lez IÃ±Ã¡rritu, Birdman is an ambitious technical showcase powered by a layered story and outstanding performances from Michael Keaton and Edward Norton.
Adjusted Score: 96858%
Critics Consensus: Dark, cynical, and subversive, Heathers gently applies a chainsaw to the conventions of the high school movie — changing the game for teen comedies to follow.
Adjusted Score: 101176%
Critics Consensus: Violent, quirky, and darkly funny, Fargo delivers an original crime story and a wonderful performance by McDormand.
Adjusted Score: 97042%
Critics Consensus: Richard E. Grant and Paul McGann prove irresistibly hilarious as two misanthropic slackers in Withnail and I, a biting examination of artists living on the fringes of prosperity and good taste.
Adjusted Score: 96348%
Critics Consensus: It’s sometimes crude and tasteless, but Ruthless People wrings acid-soaked laughs out of its dark premise and gleefully misanthropic characters.
Adjusted Score: 99319%
Critics Consensus: In the Loop is an uncommonly funny political satire that blends Dr. Strangelove with Spinal Tap for the Iraq war era.
Adjusted Score: 100658%
Critics Consensus: Led by a volcanic performance from Elizabeth Taylor, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is a scathing adaptation of the Edward Albee play that serves as a brilliant calling card for debuting director Mike Nichols.
Adjusted Score: 106092%
Critics Consensus: The Death of Stalin finds director/co-writer Arnando Iannucci in riotous form, bringing his scabrous political humor to bear on a chapter in history with painfully timely parallels.
Adjusted Score: 103389%
Critics Consensus: Charles Chaplin adds an undercurrent of malice to his comedic persona in Monsieur Verdoux, an unsettling satire that subverts the tramp’s image to perversely amusing effect.
Adjusted Score: 102190%
Critics Consensus: A complex and timely satire with as much darkness as slapstick, Ernst Lubitsch’s To Be or Not To Be delicately balances humor and ethics.
Adjusted Score: 101401%
Critics Consensus: Brazil, Terry Gilliam’s visionary Orwellian fantasy, is an audacious dark comedy, filled with strange, imaginative visuals.
Adjusted Score: 106864%
Critics Consensus: Stanley Kubrick’s brilliant Cold War satire remains as funny and razor-sharp today as it was in 1964.
Adjusted Score: 123372%
Critics Consensus: An urgent, brilliantly layered look at timely social themes, Parasite finds writer-director Bong Joon Ho in near-total command of his craft.
Adjusted Score: 103391%
Critics Consensus: The Ladykillers is a macabre slow-burn with quirky performances of even quirkier characters.
Adjusted Score: 104225%
Critics Consensus: Elaine May is a comedic dynamo both behind and in front of the camera in this viciously funny screwball farce, with able support provided by Walter Matthau.
Adjusted Score: 107770%
Critics Consensus: Performed with chameleonic brio by Alec Guinness, Kind Hearts and Coronets is a triumphant farce.