Promising Young Woman (2020, dir. Emerald Fennell)

A med school dropout seeks revenge on those who failed her best friend. Uneven black comedy with plenty to address about consent, bystanders, and those who pretend that they’re good guys. It doesn’t all work, but it’s worth your time, plus Mulligan is great.

Here’s the trailer.

Becky (2020, dir. Jonathan Milott & Cary Murnion)

A disaffected teenager takes revenge on the neo-Nazi prison escapees who take over her family’s holiday property. Slightly too clever for its own good, the movie nevertheless gets going once its plot is clear, and delivers in terms of splattery grue, even if it’s unsure what to do with loose ends.

Here’s the trailer.

Better Watch Out (2017, dir. Chris Peckover)

A pre-teen and his babysitter find themselves in a hostage situation one Christmas. Gleeful mashup of Home Alone and The Strangers that plays fast with audience expectations of a Yuletide teen wish fulfilment black comedy siege horror flick. Does what it sets out to do with some gusto.

Here’s the trailer.

Fatman (2020, dir. Eshom Nelms & Ian Nelms)

A spoiled child takes out a contract on Santa, who is struggling with responsibilities and finances. Odd black comedy mix of action, fantasy and character study that works if you go with it, though not for all. Still, it’s well-made, with plenty of interesting ideas, and not self-conscious about its cult potential.

Here’s the trailer.

The Columnist (2020, dir. Ivo van Aart)

A progressive newspaper columnist with a book due turns to murder to quell online trolls. Sprightly yet deadpan black comedy horror, exploring the impacts of internet bullying, the limits of free speech, and the rapaciousness of publishing. Plenty of dark fun to be had, and some neat asides about writing along the way.

The Platform [AKA El Hoyo] (2019, dir. Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia)

A volunteer enters a vertical prison-like social experiment. Splendid Spanish-language mashup of Cube and Snowpiercer; a single-location thriller that offers multiple allegorical readings, but works also as a darkly comic horror-inflected thriller. Brisk and efficient, and well worth your investment.

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Motel Hell (1980, dir. Kevin Connor)

After a car crash, a young woman finds herself living at a motel/farm with a deadly secret. Competent black-comedy-horror riffing on Psycho and Texas Chainsaw Massacre (both inspired by serial killer Ed Gein). Starts slow, but gains momentum, and Rory Calhoun is great as a twinkly-eyed patriarch.

Bad Education (2020, dir. Cory Finlay)

A school superintendent and their deputy are revealed, in part by a student investigation, to be embezzling from the school system. Smart black comedy-drama, based on a true story. Underplayed throughout, with fine performances from seasoned hands, and a sense that maybe the right lessons are still to be learned by some.

The Hunt (2020, dir. Craig Zobel)

A group of strangers find themselves being hunted. Okay The Most Dangerous Game variant with a few plot wrinkles, not all of which work. Stronger on splatter gore moments than as the intended satire, but there’s some fun to be had, and Betty Gilpin is great in badass mode.

Game Night (2018, dir. John Francis Daley & Jonathan Goldstein)

A competitive couple’s regular game night goes awry. Well-sustained comedy of murder-mystery-meets-real-life errors with a smart cast and generally solid script, plus some pizazz in the execution. Undemanding fun if you go with it.

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