Film Review: Extra Ordinary
Directors: Mike Ahern & Enda Loughman
In Theaters: 03.06
For whatever reason, low-budget U.K. comedy and supernatural horror tend to mix pretty well. If you’ve ever seen Shaun of the Dead, you know what I’m talking about. In fact, truth be told, I am not really a big horror fan when it’s not mixed with comedy, but the original Ghostbusters ranks among my all time favorites, and I’ve always been just a little obsessed with it. Extra Ordinary definitely owes something to both of the aforementioned films, and perhaps just a tiny bit to The Private Eyes.
Rose, a small-town Irish driving instructor (Maeve Higgins), is trying to lead a normal life, despite the fact that she has certain “talents” when it comes to conversing and connecting with the dead. Rose’s father was a minor celebrity in the world of ghost hunting, but for reasons that Rose doesn’t like to talk about, the family business died with him. Rose’s lonely life is interrupted when a local girl, Sarah Martin, enlists her aid to help her father, Martin Martin (Barry Ward), who is unable to move on with his life because his wife refuses to move on from her death. Rose takes a liking to Martin and feels tempted to help, but is too afraid of her own tragic past. Meanwhile, washed-up recording star Christian Winter (Will Forte) is toying with Satanic rituals in a diabolical plan to stage a comeback.
This is all very silly stuff, but it’s mixed with a sincerely sweet appeal. Extra Ordinary feels, more than anything, like a story from the extended Ghosbusters universe, such as the cartoon or the role playing game (I told you I was a bit obsessed), in that it’s smaller story with—at least seemingly—smaller stakes and lovably goofy characters. Higgins and Ward are an adorable and amusing pair, and whenever the film is focused on them, it’s quite the charmer. Forte’s performance, and his plot, are a bit more hit and miss, and at times it almost feels like these elements belong in a different movie. But the overall mix works, and I had a great time with it. Then again, it felt almost tailor-made for me. In fact, it unintentionally evokes my own 2012 short film Steve From Accounting Vs. The Shadow Dwellers a couple of times, even using one almost identical plot device.
If you tend to enjoy BBC comedies and have a fondness for ghost stories, you are likely to have a very pleasant time with this (no pun intended) spirited, if sometimes a bit raunchy, little film. I can see it developing a small (still no pun intended) cult following and becoming a Halloween tradition for a certain crowd. Extra Ordinary is not going to be the next Shaun, but it’s more than content being just what is is, and that’s exactly why it works. I will definitely be putting this one on my October watch list. –Patrick Gibbs