To simply classify Enda Loughman and Mike Ahern’s full-feature debut, Extra Ordinary, as a banal, non-specified, ordinary horror comedy might be an understatement through and through. There are ghosts in it, but not in a horror mood; there are jokes in it, but not of some straight gross-out mode. In fact, a woman—Maeve Higgins—stars, leads, and co-writes hearty yet ghastly comedy that isn’t a product of try-hard. It’s an oddball, tongue-to-cheek movie with lots of ghost and lots of heart at the same time, finding a consensus with a troublesome midlife crisis in the background.
Set in a sleepy Irish town, the ghosts have basically blend in with the mundane, slow life of everyone in town. The protagonist, Rose Dooley (Higgins), is a driving instructor with paranormal abilities she inherit from her father (Risteárd Cooper), a famous local paranormal who had terribly died in action. Due to some past trauma, Rose conceals his ability and lives a mundane life while getting along just fine with ghosts she meets on the street. In Extra Ordinary, ghosts can possess just about anything, including a toaster or some pets. Her supernatural talent comes in handy when a one-hit-wonder rockstar, Christian Winter (Will Forte), makes a Faustian bargain and plans to sacrifice Sarah Martin (Emma Coleman), daughter of Martin Martin (Barry Ward) in exchange for musical success. Martin, a widower living with the ghost of his dead wife, has no other option but seeking Rose’s reluctant help.
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What is scary in this story isn’t the ghost or the devil himself; it’s far more complicated than it looks like. Ghosts are becoming… ghost. They exist and co-exist with living people. Characters in Extra Ordinary seems to have taken the concept of cohabitating the same time and space with astral beings for granted. Even, Rose mistakenly thinks a living woman on the street as a ghost. Meanwhile, Martin lives with his invisible wife who will get into his business for as long as she’s able to. On the opposite end, Christian doesn’t seem to care about ghastly being; he acts perfectly normal even after some harrowingly grotesque scene that, supposedly, makes a puny man like him wrinkling. The fear for the characters is the present and what comes after that (as for Rose, it’s the past as well). Rose barely moves on from the grief over his father’s passing and her current life is miserable but she likes to think otherwise. For Martin, the possibilities to lose his daughter is even scarier than the ghost of his wife; for Christian, it’s hi musical integrity that comes rusted off over time. When their fears are tangled together, the story find the perfect mix with ghost stories and a slight of romance as the toppings.
While the dead-pan comedy falters and, almost falls entirely, into the gross comedy that the “usual” horror comedies are known for, the heart of the plot takes over. There’s almost an irony in Extra Ordinary‘s climactic showdown that suddenly brings virginity talks into surface; but, the irony aligns perfectly with the characters’ backstory that has already become the guide for the whole narrative. Albeit simple, it’s not simple-minded; this treat is exhilaratingly fun from start to finish.