While I remember seeing the trailer for Extra Ordinary and thinking ‘get me into that world!‘, its always an absolute bonus when the teasers actually hit the same level as the film and this one, from co-Writer/Directors Mike Ahern and Enda Loughman delivers in a surprisingly satisfying and rewarding way. Oh, and it’s absolutely bonkers.
Starring Maeve Higgins, who you might know from Naked Camera or Inside Amy Schumer, this Irish supernatural comedy that tells the tale of Rose Dooley (Higgins), a kind but lonely driving instructor who has a special power, she can see the spirits of the dead in various forms. But, let’s get one thing clear early on, this isn’t by any means your classic ‘seeing ghosts’ style of film because it’s really smart, very funny and unlike anything I’ve seen of late in the genre.
There’s also an early twist because although Rose does have these powers, she doesn’t like using them due to a rather unfortunate accident during an exorcism when she was a kid. She sees ghosts in sheets on the street, haunted branches waving at her and old, broken toasters wave to say hello but she continues to ignore their pleas for help. As she’s an instructor with a business, one day local widower Martin Martin (Barry Ward) pretends he needs driving lessons from her but it’s actually only because he’s aware of her ‘gift’ and, in truth, he wants her to help him exorcise the ghost of his late wife from his home, where he and is daughter are being consistently bombarded by pestering hauntings.
So while Rose doesn’t really want to use her talents, she does have a soft-spot for Martin and so decides to help him. But during this time, Martin’s daughter is also being (unknowingly) courted as a sacrifice by a local ‘old’ American pop star Christian Winter (Will Forte – on terrific crazy form), who’s secretly trying to use her in a satanic ritual that would bring him the fame he has lost and still craves. So, yes, it’s already barmy from the start but somehow, somewhere, they’ve created something bizarre that still manages to captivates and amuse in equal measure.
Obviously, a huge part of the success here is lead Maeve Higgins as Rose. She’s a watchable, naturally funny leading lady and her chemistry with Ward’s Martin means we get a pair to root for from start to finish. While Extra Ordinary is a difficult one to discuss with too much depth, without giving everything away and spoiling the experience, the progression of story and the exposition of why Rose is the way she is, it’s worth waiting for and it’s another surreal reveal. One of many that scatter the film in all it’s silliness and smarts.
You can’t get through the film without thinking of that natural, human-level that the likes of Ghostbusters achieves with such success. That 80s/90s vibe comes through in a damp, dark Ireland but it’s also sharply filmed with contrasts that pop out of the screen. Crisp, subtle camera work brings you in, with no sense of a lower budget here, as the smooth cinematography merges the ordinary with the less-than-ordinary and also impresses hugely for an iconic-looking indie film.
But, of course, Extra Ordinary also works best of all due to the ensemble cast and as well as the aforementioned, Terri Chandler, Claudia O’Doherty and Siobhan McSweeney also deserve mentioning for their fine moments along the journey. I’d also say keep an eye out for homage to famous horrors, including what’s surely a little nod towards The Exorcist, on more than one occasion.
This Irish adventure is very dry and very strange but for all the quirk, there’s also a sturdy storyline running right down the ley-lines, so to speak. I laughed out loud at regular moments with great characters this is a genuinely enjoyable and oddly satisfying lark and, oh, if you’re adding Jarvis Cocker to the soundtrack, well then, you’ve got me every time.
Wildcard Distribution is bringing Extra Ordinary to UK cinemas on 25th October. The film will play exclusively in key cities around the UK with Odeon Cinemas!