What is a Dark Comedy?

Dark comedy is a genre defined by ghastly tragedies played off as not being particularly tragic, as well as excessive amounts of deaths that are never taken seriously. Dark comedies tend to be commenting on horror in some way, whether it is the horror of life or horror films as a genre. The Cabin in the Woods, for example, while being in some ways a horror film, also satirizes the horror genre in general. The film does not feel terrifying or even anything less than funny when a man gets impaled and dies because of a unicorn horn. Tragedy in other genres is not tragedy in dark comedy; it is precisely the darker kind of humor that the filmmakers use.

The Kang family burying a dead guest in The Quiet Family
The Kang family burying a dead guest in The Quiet Family

In addition, even when the consequences are grave, any sort of mishap, deception, and misdirection feels light-hearted, as in a Shakespearian comedy. Similarly, in Shakespeare’s comedies, though things can potentially end badly, such as in Much Ado About Nothing, the witty banter and general silliness of the play makes even the more dire moments seem carefree.

The Quiet Family and Happiness of the Katakuris both have this carefree, non-tragic feeling, despite being entrenched in death and tragedy. In both films, we see a family trying desperately to make a family hotel become successful, only to have their first guests die in horrible ways. Yet, the films never lose their carefree and light-hearted tones, which can be seen through the theme of misdirection.

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