• An ominous shot from Ben Wheatley’s Sightseers

Two of the more accomplished films screening this weekend at the European Union Film Festival—Radu Jude’s Everybody in Our Family and Ben Wheatley’s Sightseers—walk a thin line between black comedy and pure horror. If I prefer the former over the latter, it’s because I find its lead characters more believable and find its nightmare scenario more affecting. But if you like to get a good jolt when you go to the movies, you should have a good time at both.

When Joe Dante introduced two of his films at the Music Box last August, he discussed this crucial link between horror and comedy, citing James Whale’s The Invisible Man as a pioneering example. “You know, you see the Invisible Man playing pranks on people and knocking things over, which is pretty funny. But then, all of a sudden, he kills somebody, and you think, ‘Hey, that isn’t very funny!'” Laughter puts viewers at ease, but it also makes them vulnerable—which may explain why some of the low-level scares in Dante’s films are so frightening in context.