If, by the off chance, you’re in the mood for an eccentric ghost story that’s filled with romance and questionable comedy, Extra Ordinary may be just what you need. And even if you’re not in the mood for that, it’s still a unique and refreshing parody that may very well win you over.
Extra Ordinary is an Irish comedy written and directed by Mike Ahern and Enda Loughman, making it the duo’s first full-length feature. It stars Barry Ward and Maeve Higgins as the protagonists, with Will Forte as an antagonizing self-righteous musician. Although its premise is one of the most outlandish in recent memory, the film grounds itself with witty exchanges and a visually pleasing aesthetic.
Not Another Ghost Story
The film follows Martin Martin (Ward), a father who’s tormented by his deceased wife and isn’t ready to put his foot down. After his daughter finds herself under a spell to be sacrificed, Martin enlists the help of Rose (Higgins), a driving instructor with supernatural abilities. As the two go on a hunt for ectoplasm — which is visually unpleasant, by the way — in order to save his daughter, musician Christian Winter (Forte) is ever-closer to sacrificing a virgin to the underworld and regaining his stardom.
Transcending the Paranormal
Extra Ordinary is a film that’s difficult to compare in many regards, and to be frank, the first 20 minutes had me questioning what it was exactly that I was watching. It’s over-the-top yet touching. It’s silly yet beautifully shot. It’s absurd, but if you let yourself fall into its zaniness, you’ll embark on a heartwarming and humorous ride. A lot of its success is due to the brilliance of Ahern and Loughman, who together wrote a cohesive, fun story. Further than that, their vision seems to translate to the screen precisely, capturing an awe-striking Ireland and charming performances by each actor.
Viewers are immediately thrown into this wacky world of a vintage aesthetic as the film trades between palettes. The days are colorfully lit with bright hues, and the nights host omniscient reds and blues. On top of its appreciable color schemes, which are hard to find in parodies of the same category, there’s intricate and clever camerawork that elevates the story.
Whether it’s a moment of humor, anxiety, or contextual foreshadowing, the camera inventively pans, angles, and shifts in order to relay a message to its viewers. This can be seen in the first scene of the film, and the techniques continue to be found throughout.
The film is captured impressively, and this is also in part due to its effects. Extra Ordinary relies on a fair amount of practical effects to build its world and its story, and aside from the last act, nothing too flashy really happens — that feels like a good thing, however. The sudden introduction of bedsheet ghosts and possessed inanimate objects are added quirks that elevate the chucklesome narrative. The CGI is pretty spectacular, too.
Extra Ordinary is one of those rare horror-comedies that’s self-aware and isn’t too full of itself, but its distinctive narrative may not come to the liking of all. As I’ve mentioned before, the first act of the movie had me questioning what I was watching, with some disdain ultimately clouding my judgment. After a while, I was able to appreciate the layers of the film and found myself in perplexed-laughter on many occasions.
With that said, its humor doesn’t always work, and at times it can seem too bizarre. Going into a film like Extra Ordinary may best be done with an open mind.
Extra Ordinary: Conclusion
Extra Ordinary doesn’t necessarily stand above others in its genre, but it comfortably finds itself apart from them. It’s peculiar and absurd, and it works on many levels thanks to its writer/director duo and the large team who ultimately brought the film together. Of course, its idiosyncrasy may not be appreciated on all levels and by all parties, but if you’re just looking for some feel-good horror, Extra Ordinary may come as a hidden surprise.
Have you seen Extra Ordinary? What’s your favorite Will Forte performance? Let us know!
Extra Ordinary received a wide release in Ireland on Sept. 13, 2019, and a wide release on March 6, 2020 in the USA.
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