6. Cashback (Sean Ellis, 2006)
One of the most unique films on this list, “Cashback” might present itself as a cliché story of a man trying to get over his ex-girlfriend and move on, but there is much more to this film than meets the eye. Following the end of his relationship, Ben (Sean Biggerstaff) develops insomnia. He uses the extra hours he gains from his lack of sleep to work at his local Sainsbury’s supermarket at night.
Ben also, however, seems to gain the ability to stop time and move freely through the paused state. Ben’s hobby as an artist gives him a fascination with the female form, and his new ability gives him rife opportunity to undress female customers and examine their figures.
The film has a very melancholic tone throughout, as we are brought into Ben’s life and are told his most private secrets. The laughs are mostly provided by the film’s supporting characters, including Ben’s best friend and co-workers.
As well as being moving and funny, the film is outstanding from a technical aspect. Sharp editing and scene transitions help to bring us into Ben’s lucid state of mind, induced by his insomnia. Similarly, the cinematography perfectly captures both the clinical stasis of the supermarket, and the quiet nuance of Ben’s bedroom.
This film is definitely worth watching for the examination of the human mind and how it deals with relationships. Powerful performances from up-and-coming actors make this a moving but funny film.
7. Death at a Funeral (Frank Oz, 2007)
After his father’s death, Daniel’s (Matthew MacFadyen) family comes together to honour his memory at his funeral. An all-star cast including Alan Tudyk, Ewen Bremner, and Peter Dinklage make up the guests, each bringing their own trouble to the other guests at the funeral. One of the guests, however, holds a dark secret about the deceased and threatens to leak it to the other guests. From there, things only get worse for all the guests involved.
From director Frank Oz, this witty comedy features a strong narrative filled to the brim of simple-yet-interesting characters and a plot that explores all that could possibly go wrong at a funeral. From an accidental acid trip to unrequited romantic moments, nothing seems to go to plan, which results in many dark, humorous laughs.
In a film that is driven by the dialogue and the characters, the emphasis on these aspects rather than more stylistic approaches make this a dark comedy worth watching.
8. In Bruges (Martin McDonagh, 2009)
After a job goes wrong, two hitmen, Ray and Ken (played by Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson respectively), are ordered by their boss Harry (Ralph Fiennes) to hide out in Bruges, Belgium.
While Ken is happy to take in the history and architecture of the historic town, Ray wants nothing more than to leave the town. The rest of the film explores themes such as guilt, existentialism, and suicide, all the while being very witty and laugh-out-loud funny.
The laughs are, for the most part, developed by the dynamic between Ray and Ken, as they do not see eye-to-eye on much, but actually do care about each other. Their petty but witty arguments behold charm and charisma from both actors, and are both instantly likeable.
However, Fiennes’ performance as Harry is truly scene-stealing, with a mixture of funny dialogue and terrifying line delivery, creating a unique, memorable character. “In Bruges” is a funny, bloody comedy with a lot to say about the human spirit.
9. Four Lions (Chris Morris, 2010)
You’ve never seen a film like this. Four wannabe jihadists based in England plan on giving their life for their religion in an attempt to blow themselves up; however, these are probably the most incompetent terrorists ever seen on film. The four lead characters, Omar (Riz Ahmed), Waj (Kayvan Novak), Faisal (Adeel Akhtar), and white convert Barry (Nigel Lindsay), are excellently portrayed by their respective actors and are totally believable in their misadventures.
From arguing amongst themselves as to where the target should be, to accidentally blowing themselves up whilst carrying volatile explosive ingredients, this film showcases a full range of criticisms for Islamic terrorists. However, “Four Lions” also criticises the authorities in charge of keeping terrorism at bay, proving to be just as incompetent, and endangering just as many if not more civilians than the four lead characters.
“Four Lions” is extremely relevant in today’s society and is extremely satirical, and is worth watching just for the performances and dialogue of the four lead characters.
10. Sightseers (Ben Wheatley, 2012)
Ben Wheatley’s third feature film “Sightseers” follows the story of Chris (Steve Oram) and Tina (Alice Lowe) as they go on a caravan holiday to the Yorkshire countryside – the only trouble is that they want to kill nearly everyone they meet. “Sightseers” delivers an insight into the relationship between two people who should not be together, both with troubled pasts and personalities.
The film is about as British as they come; the typically British act of a caravan holiday provides a shell to explore the antics between the two lead characters as they visit museums, explore ancient heritage sites, and kill civilians – and at one point kidnap a dog. “Sightseers” showcases lush British hillsides, showing the best of what the Yorkshire countryside has to offer, and also acts as a backdrop and contrast to the violent acts that Chris and Tina commit with gruesome special effects.
“Sightseers” acted as a cornerstone in Wheatley’s career, and echoes of it can be seen in his films made after this one. As a comedy crime story with hints of horror, “Sightseers” is worth your attention.
11. Filth (Jon S. Baird, 2013)
James McAvoy delivers a tour de force of acting and gives the performance of his career as Bruce Robertson, a detective for the Edinburgh police. Bruce is good at his job; however, he also happens to be a narcissistic, manipulative, and simply evil drug-addicted nymphomaniac.
After a Japanese student is murdered, Bruce is given the role of head investigator of the case, but he gets side-tracked by his hobby of mentally abusing nearly everyone he knows (which includes an all-cast featuring Eddie Marsan, Jamie Bell, and Kate Dickie).
Similar to “Trainspotting”, “Filth” is also based on a novel by Irvine Welsh, and retains the same status as a cult film. Iconic characters fill the film and each deliver their respective iconic lines; however, it is truly McAvoy who gives the stand-out performance. Bruce becomes fully believable as he stabs everyone in the back to get higher in the game and bullies them just for fun.
The film, despite being gut-wrenchingly funny, is also extremely dark at times, delving into themes such as mental health, addiction, schizophrenia, and the ideas of loss and guilt. A fully appropriate soundtrack enhances every scene and makes “Filth” into a truly funny, powerful dark comedy.
Author Bio: Dominic Bayliss is a freelance film critic and writer currently based in southern England. He enjoys cult, horror and independent cinema and is a home entertainment enthusiast.