Dark Humor is a genre which dares to explore the hilarity in seemingly serious issues. By definition, dark or black comedy is a sub-genre of comedy where objectionable topics are used in a satirical manner as a source of humor. It can be safely said that this style of humor is not for everyone. It comes as no surprise that some of the best movies have dark humor as an underlying element, not because it makes fun of serious issues but how it can find a sense of lightness and humor in face of despair.

When it comes to architecture in dark humor flicks, We have some brilliant examples of filmmakers like Wes Anderson and Tim Burton who use architecture as a trademark for their seemingly morbid, deeply profound, unexpectedly hilarious and aesthetically pleasing cinema. Truly a delight to watch, here we explore 5 dark humor films which have left an indelible mark on movie buffs:

1. The Grand Budapest Hotel

A movie where every scene can be called a stylistic painting in motion, The grand Budapest hotel is a story of love, friendship, adventure and betrayal set across the changing political landscape in different time frames, with the hotel itself being at its center. Resembling a wedding cake from the outside and an embellished dollhouse on the inside, the hotel is a homage to European grandeur. Shot in a one-point perspective, the characters of the movie literally lie at its center with perfect symmetrical backgrounds.

Full of comical chase scenes and quirky situations, the message of the movie manages to hit home- Even the grand Budapest hotel cannot avoid change and decay with changing times and political moods. Truly a classic Wes Anderson flicks with his signature use of symmetry, stark color palette, and one-point perspective.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

2. Birdman

A critically acclaimed film, Birdman has been lauded for its use of long takes to create a sense of continuity making the whole movie look like a single scene. It deals with the downward spiral of an actor past his prime, trying to make a comeback. Set in the St. James theatre of New York, the production design facilitates the working of long takes and creates a sense of overwhelming enclosure for its protagonist. As the anxiety of the opening night of his Broadway production rises, Riggan seems to hallucinate and hold conversations with his bygone role of Birdman, in a hilarious yet disturbing way. To make sense of its ending is a whole different story altogether, but thinking one can fly and actually flying may become the same thing after watching birdman.


3. The Royal Tenenbaums

Another Wes Anderson classic, The Royal Tenenbaums is a tale of a highly dysfunctional family with long-buried grudges that come to surface under a hasty lie. The film revolves around eccentric siblings with peculiar personalities, living under the same roof after many years.

The house consists of oak staircases, boar heads adorning the pink walls, and rooms reflecting each character’s personality. The film was shot in a 1880s mini-mansion- a Victorian-style brick house, which after renovation depicted Wes Anderson’s quaint aesthetic. The film somehow makes us laugh at the disappointing realities of life while staying true to its message of familial bonds and bitterness.


4. Edward Scissorhands

A Tim Burton movie, Edward Scissorhands is an endearing story of Edward who has scissors for hands. Living in a dilapidated gothic castle, Edward is lonely, innocent and unaware of the world outside the decrepit castle. He is introduced to the suburban life of 70s where houses are all alike with sickly pastel exteriors. Everything is one dimensional and mundane which reflects the shallow nature of the society.

Seeing Edward try and adjust to suburban life is comical and endearing but soon he is seen as an outsider who can’t help but harm anyone who gets near him despite his best efforts against it. Tim Burton uses architecture to depict the shallowness of the 70s suburban life with its clinical neighborhoods and homogeneous lifestyle.


5. Pulp Fiction

No one can make the audience laugh at the bloody gore caused onscreen, like Quentin Tarantino. Pulp Fiction is one of a kind crime drama which is imbued with comedy only Tarantino can get away with. Pulp fiction shows us the northern American suburbs in all its tainted glory. In every interior filming location, the decoration lends a certain character to space and what it conveys about the person who lives there. Floral motif wallpapers cover the walls in living rooms, kitchen and bathroom as well in an attempt to coverup the crimes that take place in a seemingly normal suburban setting. Any Tarantino movie is not only concerned with its characters but also how the urban setting of a space influences them and motivates them to cause murder and mayhem, which is bound to happen at one point in a Tarantino flick.


Darshika Rajput is currently in her fourth year of architecture. She is a voracious reader and an art aficionado who loves to translate the essence of a space into words. She truly believes that words indeed are our most inexhaustible source of magic.

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