Extra Ordinary

Extra Ordinary, a horror-comedy from Irish filmmakers Mike Ahern and Enda Loughman, is loaded with ideas, concepts, and gags.  But while these bits are funny individually, they don’t collectively contribute to an overarching story.

Driving instructor Rose (Maeve Higgins) lives in loneliness as she ignores requests that would drudge up her past as a helper to her paranormal investigator father Vincent (Risteard Cooper).  Despite attempts to distance herself from her former profession, the community refuses to forget.  Including a local windowed father eccentrically named Martin Martin (Barry Ward), who is haunted by his deceased (and smothering) wife from beyond the grave.  Plans to put Marin’s wife to rest are suddenly sidetracked when washed-up musician Christian Winter (Will Forte) chooses Martin’s daughter Sarah (Emma Coleman) as a sacrifice to fulfil a Satanic pact to resurrect his music career.

The rescue mission to save Sarah requires healthy doses of ectoplasm, which Rose and Martin have to collect from unsolved hauntings.  These mini adventures around town are a clear indication that sketch comedy may be a strong suit for Ahern and Loughman.  These standalone scenes have good jokes, a consistent comedic structure, and a worthy payoff.  The out-and-about possessions all finish with a hilarious gross-out sight gag (Martin Martin, having been possessed by each ghost, retches up sticky goo) which, despite being repetitive, still finds a way to squeeze out laughs from the audience.

I really wish Extra Ordinary would’ve been more about the dynamic between Rose and Martin.  The filmmakers would argue that’s what their film is about, but the central relationship between these two is often put on the back burner to reset the focus on Forte’s evildoing musician;  sidetracking a perfectly capable story about grief, headlined by quirky loners who desperately want to move on but don’t understand how.  Martin’s dead wife eventually starts possessing him and pesters Rose throughout the last act of Extra Ordinary.  Imagine the possibilities if this conundrum had been introduced earlier.

And that’s not to say Will Forte’s scenes are dire.  Forte has fun playing a nefarious crybaby, and his comedic timing is always on point (a set-up involving him finding a new sacrificial virgin with a phallic rod is a good intro to this character and Forte’s expertise).  His screen partner is Claudia O’Doherty, who was a scene-stealing sweetheart on Netflix’s Love and is amusing here as Christian’s irritated, gold digging wife who calls it like it is.  These characters deserve their own prequel – perhaps that could be arranged for Mike Ahern and Enda Loughman’s next project.

Even though there’s an underlying disconnect, Extra Ordinary perseveres and keeps audiences laughing and entertained.

Read Shahbaz Khayambashi’s review of Extra Ordinary


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