Extra Ordinary (Ireland / Belgium / 15A / 94 mins)
In short: Supremely silly
Directed by Mike Ahern, Enda Loughman. Starring Maeve Higgins, Barry Ward, Will Forte, Claudia O’Doherty, Emma Coleman.
The Plot: Rose (Maeve Higgins) is a driving instructor in a small Irish town. Most people are more interested in her ‘special talents’ though. Following in the footsteps of her paranormal investigator father, Rose is a conduit for ghosts to communicate with the living. She comes across the curious case of Martin (Barry Ward), a widower who is being bossed about by his possessive wife. The only problem is that she’s dead and won’t leave the house. When Barry’s teenage daughter Sarah (Emma Coleman) is put under a spell by local Satanist Christian (Will Forte), who intends to sacrifice her, Rose must do what she can and battle the forces of evil with a weary sigh…
The Verdict: The mix of horror and comedy is a match made in heaven… or hell depending on the final outcome. They are easy bedfellows, given that horror can be so intense as to need some light relief when required. The benchmarks for this sub-genre are An American Werewolf In London and Ghostbusters, which both deftly wove comedy into the more horrific elements so as not to take the plot too seriously. New Irish film Extra Ordinary cleaves more to the Ghostbusters end of business, given that it involves spooky goings-on in domestic situations which require an intervention. Who you gonna call? The sweet, desperately unattached and consistently unfazed Rose it seems. She’s very casual about the ghostbusting business. Though, when she’s dealing with waving branches, jumpy toasters or cheeky haunted wheelie bins then that comes as no surprise.
For a first-time feature from co-directors Mike Ahern and Enda Loughman, Extra Ordinary is pleasantly on-point in its approach to the supernatural. It’s all a bit of a laugh and they encourage the audience to laugh along with their dim but loveable characters. It’s a very Irish comedy in that regard, eagerly pulling hearty strips off the supporting characters while always maintaining a firm focus on the earnest Rose and what makes her tick. None more so than Christian, a one-hit wonder American singer who is dreaming of a comeback via a pact with the Devil. Will Forte, having previously worked in Ireland on Run & Jump, is simply divine / devilish as Christian. He hams it to the hilt, all over-worked enthusiasm but never particularly threatening until he does something murderous. Christian is like a Satanist wannabe who is reading straight from a dusty old manual, rather than being the actual thing and this is what makes him so darn laughable.
It’s not just Forte who scores well here. Higgins gives a lovely, well-drawn performance as Rose. Ward suffers all manner of indignities as he coughs up gobs of ectoplasm after being temporarily possessed – with often hilarious results. It’s a good-natured film all round, even to the hellish climax when it takes a non-serious and non-sensical approach to the introduction of a new character. Looked at in a certain light, Extra Ordinary is mostly ordinary filmmaking that revels in its supreme silliness. It’s too silly and absurd for its own good at times (e.g. the constant harping on about food and a particular brand of food at that). One gets the impression that more experienced co-directors might have reined in the absurdity a bit more and sharpened the dialogue to make the comedy more pointed. However, Extra Ordinary gets by comfortably on its Irish charm, good sense of humour and spirited (in every sense of the word) performances.