Cinephilia

Review: Extra Ordinary

Heading to the movie theater might not be at the top of your list of Things To Do This Weekend, and it’s understandable if so. If, however, you’re more of the “measured-but-cautious” ilk and haven’t let recent public health concerns overly impact your day-to-day life, heading out to catch Extra Ordinary, a treat of a movie that effortlessly mashes up comedy, romance, horror and adventure, could be a great way to distract from the actual horrors of the day.

The debut feature film from writing/directing duo Mike Ahern and Enda Loughman, Extra Ordinary more than earns its place among cheeky genre films like What We Do in the Shadows and Shaun of the Dead. Set in a sleepy Irish town where everyone knows everyone and things like ghosts haunting your home, your toaster or your cupboards, seem to be all but accepted as everyday occurrences, Rose Dooley (Maeve Higgins) is an unassuming driving instructor living on her own since her father, Vincent (Risteard Cooper), a medium who convened with said ghosts as a service to his neighbors, passed away. She’s got the same gift, but would rather not engage it if possible, and instead live as normal a life as she can even as ghosts and ghouls seem to keep finding her.

Elsewhere in town, has-been rockstar Christian Winter (a note-perfect Will Forte) has made a pact with the devil for his own return to greatness, something involving a virgin and levitation and…it’s best not to over-explain this one. The father of the virgin he’s targeted for his supernatural misdeeds, Martin Martin (Barry Ward), calls on Rose to help, posing as a new driving student in a laughably droll scene of misdirection and excessive politeness. With Martin’s deceased wife still haunting their home and Sarah Martin (Emma Coleman) inexplicably levitating above her bed, Rose has her work cut out for her.

Led strongly by Higgins’s endearing performance as a single woman just trying to live a simple life despite everyone else’s (living or otherwise) interference, Extra Ordinary‘s ensemble creates a tight rhythm and strong chemistry that elevates Ahern’s and Loughman’s witty and original script into something thoroughly entertaining. Even the smallest line, expression or gesture is delivered with the audience in mind, jokes and witty asides moving so quickly you might have to watch the whole thing over again to catch them all. In the midst of all the humor is a genuinely well-crafted genre film, with excellent effects in this wacky world where haunted garbage tins and levitating french fries are, if not normal, at least not entirely unexpected. The first time Winter tries to cast his dastardly spell, he’s interrupted, causing the virgin to fall to the ground and (gore alert) apparently implode from her midsection out. It’s a gruesome moment, sure, but Ahern and Loughman ensure the proceedings never get too heavy, the jokes not far behind the carnage.

Eventually, Rose can’t deny that she’s the only one who can save her neighbors from all the hauntings and curses, and the film’s final sequence gets massive credit for delivering on the stakes the first two acts have so hilariously set up. While they’ve been battling the evil powers that be, Rose and Martin have developed a bit of a romance, and as a secret from her own background is revealed in the final moments, the resolution that will save the town—and save Rose from being sucked into the depths of hell—is as sweet as it is absurd. Right up until the credits roll (and even after they end), the filmmakers are committed to their tone and genre (or blend of them, as it were), and the result is a wholly enjoyable, quirky adventure that’s as equally perfect to catch with a group of friends as it is with a date—assuming both are up for a bit of a silly good time.

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