Contrasting Goals within Dark Comedies

While films in the genre of dark comedy do share many similarities, such as misdirection, each individual film uses this misdirection to accomplish a certain goal. The Quiet Family seems to use this misdirection to satirize the genre of horror films. For example, when one of the daughters of the family, Min-soo, is almost raped by one of the guests at the lodge, her brother, Young-min, intervenes and pushes the attempted rapist off of a cliff, presumably to his death. However, as the two daughters are sleeping that night, the rapist, covered in blood, bursts into their room with a shovel to kill them. Upon seeing him, the girls scream, which prompts their uncle to rush into the room. When he opens the door, he accidentally throws the edge of the door into the rapist’s head, knocking him to the floor, dead.

The bloody face of the rapist who has come back to kill Min-su
The bloody face of the attempted rapist who has come back to kill Min-su

The implausibility that occurs in this scene- the rapist surviving a plummet off of a cliff, being uninjured enough to walk back to the lodge to avenge himself, and the uncle accidentally killing him with a door- comes off of as satirical. As a genre, horror films frequently rely on implausible situations; terror can easily be found in situations that are not probable but yet still possible. Therefore, as displayed in this scene, The Quiet Family satirizes horror films by also relying on implausible scenarios that are still possible, even if only very slightly so. Because The Quiet Family falls into the genre of dark comedy, this satirical approach to the convention of implausibility produces comedy instead of horror.

In contrast to satirizing the horror genre, Happiness of the Katakuris relies on its misdirection to subvert genre expectations and misdirect the audience. For example, when a family arrives at the inn, the mother asks to borrow some “strong cord.”

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The father, worried that yet more guests will die in their inn, makes a choking gesture with his hands to his neck and asks, “Strong cord?” The audience has the expectation that this family will be found dead in the morning, due to the previous deaths that have occurred in the film and the genre convention of comical deaths. However, the family simply leaves the next day, the few overnight guest survivors at the inn. By setting up the possibility for a family suicide yet not going through with it, Happiness of the Katakuris acknowledges the audience’s expectation and completely subverts it, which seems to be the main goal of the film.


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