Rural Ireland. Sweet-hearted Rose (Maeve Higgins) is a paranormal investigator-turned-driving instructor who blames herself for the death of her dad. When local widower Martin (Barry Ward) asks for help dealing with the abusive ghost of his deceased wife, she soon finds herself in the middle of a Satanic plot involving a washed-up American pop star (Will Forte).
There are more examples of exorcisms in horror-Fmovieshistory than you can shake a projectile-vomiting infant at. Ex-wife-orcisms, on the other hand, are rarer in the horror canon. Extra Ordinary, a devilishly Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace-esque romcom courtesy of first-time writer-directors Mike Ahern and Enda Loughman, delights in exactly this kind of invention. The film centres on Rose (a sensational Maeve Higgins), a small-town ghostbuster whose love life is destined to remain as dead as the ghouls she converses with unless she can rid recent widower Martin (Barry Ward) of the poltergeist-y presence of his no-nonsense late wife. We never see the dearly departed Bonnie but she controls every element of Martin’s life – his shirt selection, his toaster settings, you name it. When Martin reaches out to Rose for help, at the behest of his teenage daughter, the pair hit it off. Which cheers Rose, but sends Bonnie into a rage from beyond the grave.
The duo’s budding romance is derailed by the discovery of a local singer-songwriter’s plan to sacrifice a virgin to a demon in exchange for a hit album. Which explains Ed Sheeran, sure, but pulls the film away from its finest material – the phantasmal love triangle at Extra Ordinary’s core. 30 Rock’s Will Forte is fun as the preening ’70s has-been whose tax problems (and utter lack of talent) have led to him exiling himself in a rural Irish town, where he’s struck a deal with dark forces: slaughter Martin’s daughter during the upcoming Blood Moon, and in return he’ll be granted fame and glory. Ahern and Loughman’s script is at its most impressive, however, when Martin, Rose and Bonnie are left to bicker and charm, in the movie’s less bombastic beats: a ridiculous driving lesson between Rose and Martin, a glimpse into Rose’s daily dinner plan (yoghurt followed by microwave lasagne, consumed in her pants sat on a slowly deflating space hopper, in case you’re wondering).
Spirited in every sense of the word.
There’s humanity beneath the hilarity. Rose is haunted by regrets over the death of her father, himself an investigator into ghostly goings-on (“Do you ever have nightmares after eating cheese? You might have eaten a ghost,” he explains in one of many grainy clips from his video guides peppered throughout the film). Her loneliness gives the film a heartstring-tugging emotional undercurrent: at times, she confides, she herself feels like a ghost – unseen, unattractive, unloved. Related Posts:
Ahern and Loughman strike a formidable balance between laughs and lilting moments of emotion. Combining What We Do In The Shadows’ dry wit, the punchy direction and genre fun-poking of Shaun Of The Dead, plus a proton pack’s worth of Ghostbusters gags (“I haven’t read it,” says Rose when Martin references the ’80s classic), Extra Ordinary is spirited in every sense of the word. It’s a film in which there’s something strange in a neighbourhood, to borrow from the Ghostbusters theme song. That “neighbourhood” just happens to be middle-of-nowhere Ireland. What’s strange is how confident this is for a pair of first-time filmmakers.