[2010s REWIND] 10 Slasher-Comedy Films That Brought the Fun

As the second decade of the 21st century draws to a close, I’m looking back at some of the trends that defined horror from 2010-2019. In this first post, I’m shining a spotlight on a sub-genre that really exploded throughout the decade: the slasher-comedy.

Slasher-comedies are films that blend comedic elements with attributes and tropes from the slasher sub-genre of horror. Prior to the 2010s, there weren’t many mainstream films that fit this bill. The 1980s had slasher parody Student Bodies— alongside a few slashers with satirical elements like Slumber Party Massacre and Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives. In the mid-’90s, Scream kicked off a series of campy, self-aware teen slashers, and parodies of those films came soon after (i.e. Scary Movie and Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday the 13th). The aughts brought satirical slasher entries like Psycho Beach Party, Club Dread, Seed of Chucky, Severance, The Cottage and Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon.

Cut to the 2010s. It’s hard to say what kicked off the slasher-comedy craze we’ve seen play out throughout the decade. Notably, with the exception of a few prominent sequels and reboots, ‘serious’ slasher films have been largely absent from the public spotlight. Though, recent mainstream features like Halloween (2018), Unfriended: Dark Web and Hell Fest— along with Netflix’s Slasher and FX’s American Horror Story: 1984— suggest there may still be life left in more traditional slasher fare. Regardless, we did get several great horror-comedies with strong slasher influences throughout the decade. Eli Craig’s Tucker and Dale vs. Evil kicked off this trend early on, and Christopher Landon’s Happy Death Day was a fun, box office sleeper hit during the latter half of the decade. When horror historians look back at the 2010s, the slasher-comedy sub-genre will no doubt receive a good deal of retrospective study.

Below, I’ve compiled a list of 10 worthwhile, representative slasher-comedies from the 2010s. All are fairly comedic in nature, but some do lean a bit harder into the horror/thriller aeshetic. P.S. I didn’t feel Adam Wingard’s You’re Next quite meshed tonally with the entries below, but it is a solid slasher-type horror film with some black-comedy influences.

1. TUCKER AND DALE VS. EVIL (2010)

“Two hillbillies are suspected of being killers by a group of paranoid college kids camping near the duo’s West Virginian cabin. As the body count climbs, so does the fear and confusion as the college kids try to seek revenge against the pair.”

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is a clever, very fun inversion of the typical slasher movie formula. From the mind of writer/director Eli Craig (Little Evil), the film features geek-favorites Alan Tudyk (Firefly) and Tyler Labine (Reaper) as a pair of West Virginia hillbillies just trying to live their lives in peace when a group of rowdy college students show up and start blaming them for a series of unexplained, gruesome murders. A comedy of errors, this slapstick horror-farce is chalk full of gores and laughs, and the plot constantly surprises while subverting viewer expectations. With a few heartfelt moments thrown in for good measure, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is a real winner that set the tone for slasher comedies throughout the decade.

WATCH: Netflix, Amazon (Rent/Buy)


2. DETENTION (2011)

“As a killer named Cinderhella stalks the student body at the high school in Grizzly Lake, a group of co-eds band together to survive while they’re all serving detention.”

Detention is an absolutely bonkers, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink sci-fi horror-comedy that plays out like a manic blend of Scream, The Breakfast Club, Back to the Future and The Fly. Chalk full of pop culture references and meta winks, this demented, hyperactive dark comedy from director Joseph Kahn (Torque, Bodied) constantly zigs and zags– rarely stopping to smell the roses. The film’s ensemble cast includes a pre-Hunter Games Josh Hutcherson, Shanley Caswell (The Conjuring), Spencer Locke (Cougar Town), and a parade of other young faces. Overall, it’s an exhilarating but head-scratching ride that will leave some viewers feeling dizzy and disoriented. Advice: don’t overthink it, and bring motion sickness pills just in case.

WATCH: Amazon (Rent/Buy)


3. THE VOICES (2014)

“A mentally unhinged factory worker must decide whether to listen to his talking cat and become a killer, or follow his dog’s advice to keep striving for normalcy.”

Before the world contracted Deadpool fever, Ryan Reynolds starred in this under the radar, pitch-black comedy about a young bachelor looking for love in all the wrong places. Oh, and he’s convinced his pet cat and dog can talk– with the former telling him to murder people and the latter trying to rein in those killer impulses. Even at its most ludicrous, director Marjane Satrapi’s film succeeds by staying relatively grounded in its depiction of the deeply troubled, complex lead. Early dark comedy vibes eventually give way to some visceral and cathartic scenes near the end between Reynolds’ character and one played by Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect). If characters like Norman Bates and Dexter Morgan wet your whistle, seek this out.

WATCH: Amazon (Rent/Buy)


4. THE FINAL GIRLS (2015)

“A young woman grieving the loss of her mother, a famous scream queen from the 1980s, finds herself pulled into the world of her mom’s most famous movie. Reunited, the women must fight off the film’s maniacal killer.”

The Final Girls deserved far more hype than it initially received, but thankfully the film has attracted a growing cult following over the past few years. On paper, it’s a comedic riff on the Friday the 13th series, but the film also has a surprising amount of heart and tenderness. Written by Joshua John Miller and M.A. Fortin (Queen of the South) and directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson (Isn’t It Romantic), the plot is partially inspired by the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. The filmmakers cleverly utilize an ’80s slasher setting to tell a very human story about grief and friendship. There are some fun kills along the way, but the film is first and foremost a story about self-discovery and complex human relationships. It’s also funny as hell.

WATCH: Amazon (Rent/Buy)


5. PREVENGE (2016)

“A pregnant widow, believing herself to be guided by her unborn child, embarks on a homicidal rampage.”

Labeling Alice Lowe’s Prevenge solely a comedy is perhaps a disservice to the overall film. Yes, there are various darkly comedic, deadpan moments throughout, but this indie slasher also traffics in heavy themes like grief recovery and overcoming feelings of helplessness. Lowe, who was actually pregnant while filming, plays the lead character, Ruth, whose motives for killing become more apparent as the story progresses. Prevenge doesn’t ask viewers to absolve Ruth of her crimes, but the film does put motherhood firmly on display and provide context for why a woman would be driven to commit said crimes. Not since Mrs. Voorhees in the original Friday the 13th has a slasher film been so effective in that regard.

WATCH: Amazon (with Shudder)


6. BETTER WATCH OUT (2016)

“On a quiet suburban street tucked within a ‘safe neighborhood’, a babysitter must defend a twelve-year-old boy from strangers breaking into the house, only to discover that this is far from a normal home invasion.”

Marketed as Home Alone meets Scream, the trailers for Better Watch Out sold the film as a Christmas-themed, home invasion flick. And, in part, that’s what it is. However, at the risk of spoiling anything, that isn’t all it is. There are some truly surprising twists and turns in the film’s second act that have been polarizing to some viewers. Personally, I enjoyed Chris Peckover and Zack Kahn’s holiday black comedy/thriller quite a bit– especially the fantastic performances by its young, lead actors Levi Miller (Pan) and Olivia DeJonge (The Visit). While the second half won’t please everyone, there is enough dark comedy and yuletide spirit distributed throughout the film to appease even the most cynical Scrooges during the holidays.

WATCH: Amazon (with Shudder)


7. HAPPY DEATH DAY (2017)

“Caught in a bizarre and terrifying time warp, college student Tree finds herself repeatedly reliving the day of her murder, ultimately realizing that she must identify the killer and the reason for her death before her chances of survival run out.”

Writer/director Christopher Landon (DisturbiaParanormal Activity series) spearheaded this little Blumhouse cult hit that has been described as Groundhog Day meets Scream. It’s a very fun, inventive spin on the ever-evolving slasher genre. While there are some legitimate scares, this sci-fi black comedy never takes itself too seriously (nor should it). Landon also worked some feminist and queer-friendly elements into the story– including a complex female lead played by the fabulous Jessica Rothe (Mary + Jane), a gay supporting character, and just the right amount of campy one-liners to gag over. His follow-up sequel, Happy Death Day 2U, is equally fun and doubles down on the sci-fi elements from the first film.

WATCH: Amazon (Rent/Buy)


8. TRAGEDY GIRLS (2017)

“Teenage crime reporters Sadie and McKayla are hot on the trail of a crazed serial killer. After capturing the maniac and holding him hostage, they soon realize that the best way to boost their social media stardom is to commit the murders themselves.”

Tyler MacIntyre and Chris Lee Hill’s Tragedy Girls is a dark-as-they-come teen comedy that draws influences from films like Heathers and Scream. Driven by the fantastic performances of its two lead actresses Alexandra Shipp (X-Men series) and Brianna Hildebrand (Deadpool), the film is a nihilistic and deadpan examination of teen life today. While the protagonists are young, sadistic sociopaths, there’s something almost pure about a teen female friendship that transcends society’s traditional concepts of morality. Plus, unlike films such as Heathers and The CraftTragedy Girls is ultimately more about strengthening a complex female friendship rather than tearing it apart. In that regard, the film is a triumph– not a tragedy.

WATCH: HuluAmazon (Rent/Buy)


9. THE BABYSITTER (2017)

“When Cole stays up past his bedtime, he discovers that his hot babysitter is part of a Satanic cult that will stop at nothing to keep him quiet.”

From director McGee (Charlie’s Angels) and writer Brian Duffield (Insurgent), The Babysitter feels like a bit of an ’80s throwback film. There’s plenty of splatter humor throughout, and solid cast performances from Samara Weaving (Mayhem), Robbie Ammell (The Flash), Bella Thorne (Assassination Nation), and others punctuate a fun, if somewhat uneven, cuckoo-crazy script. The film’s main strength is that it knows what it is– a silly teen satanic romp– and it doesn’t ever try to be anything beyond that. Viewers are asked to suspend belief for 85 minutes of bonkers fun, and for those who can, The Babysitter has plenty to offer. It’s a solid blend of supernatural horror and over-the-top, tongue-in-cheek antics.

WATCH: Netflix


10. YOU MIGHT BE THE KILLER (2018)

“Counselors are being killed off at summer camp, and Sam is stuck in the middle of it. Instead of contacting the cops, he calls his friend and slasher-film expert to discuss his options.”

Fans of Joss Whedon’s works will instantly recognize the two stars on display in You Might Be the Killer: Fran Kranz (The Cabin in the Woods, Dollhouse) and Alyson Hannigan (Buffy, HIMYM). Not unlike The Final Girls, the film is a meta-horror comedy heavily indebted to the Friday the 13th franchise. However, that’s about where the similarities end. You Might be the Killer tries to be clever and self-reflexive, and at times, it succeeds well enough. Those moments are just too few and far between, and the film doesn’t have enough soul to make a big impact. That said, even when the premise wore thin, I had fun watching Kranz and Hannigan spout out horror movie references and engage in meta-slasher shenanigans.

WATCH: Amazon (with Shudder)


DEEP CUTS

  • Stitches (2013)
  • Stage Fright (2014)
  • You’re Killing Me (2015)
  • Fear, Inc. (2016)
  • Blood Fest (2018)
  • Mom and Dad (2018)
  • Slice (2018)
  • Ready or Not (2019) *upcoming*

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