While certainly a horror comedy, Extra Ordinary doesn’t pay too close attention to the first genre there. First time directors and writers Mike Ahern and Enda Loughman are going for the laughs here, not scares. Despite telling a story that revolves around ghosts and demonic sacrifices, they’ve made a film that is utterly charming, funny and surprisingly cosy at times, and it feels just right.
Set in an acutely supernatural, and quirky small Irish town, the film follows Rose Dooley (Maeve Higgins), a kind former medium turned driving instructor. Following a deadly accident during a routine spirit exorcism with her father (an expert in all things paranormal), she has rebuffed her “gift” and ignores the ghosts that greet her on the streets and voicemails from townspeople begging for help.
She’s forced to put her driving school career on hold though and use her abilities again when Martin (Barry Ward), a handsome and equally sweet man who’s already being haunted by his dead wife finds his daughter has been selected for a virgin sacrifice. The two team up and with the help/hindrance of a sharp, likeable cast of characters (played by Claudia O’Doherty, Terri Chandler, Risteárd Cooper and Will Forte) work to save his daughter by exorcising spirits throughout the town and finding the person responsible for the enchantment.
Provided Extra Ordinary gets the proper critical attention and finds an audience outside of its native Ireland, this has the potential to be a star-making turn for comedian Higgins. This is her first film, and it’s such a promising, delightful start. She’s wonderful and incredibly funny in little and big moments regardless of whether she’s sharing sweet chemistry with Higgins or alone as her character eats yogurt and bounces on an exercise ball pants-less in the kitchen.
The story and script here are really absurd and almost too much at times, but she grounds it and makes every scene she’s in a total joy to watch. Though Forte is the recognisable name here and will most likely be it’s biggest asset in bringing people in, they’ll leave talking about Higgins. And even more importantly, they’ll leave smiling. Above everything else (including the paranormal and scarier elements), this is simply a good time.
by Jennifer Verzuh
Jennifer Verzuh is a writer who’s spent the past year and a half travelling across the US working at film festivals after graduating college, where she studied literature and film production. Some of her favorite movies are Carol, Ida, Jackie & Nashville. You can follow her on Twitter at @20thcenturywmn or letterboxd.