Cult Classics: Extra Ordinary

extra ordinary index

It must be pretty difficult to come up with an original idea when it comes to dealing with the supernatural, and putting a comedic spin on it at that, but writer-directors Mike Ahern and Enda Loughman (along with Demian Fox and Maeve Higgins on the script front) have managed to do just do that with this incredibly charming but rather odd low budget comedy horror which succeeds in being not only very funny but rather unpredictable too.

Set in Ireland in the present day it follows driving instructor Rose (Maeve Higgins) who reluctantly has the ability to speak to ghosts. She used to take part in a tv series with her father all about the supernatural until his tragic death which she feels responsible for, and ever since then has tried to ignore her powers despite the dead often communicating with her. But when she meets Martin Martin (Barry Ward) and discovers that not only is his wife haunting him but his daughter seems to have been possessed she has no choice but to re-enter the world of the occult.

What makes it such an unusual beast is that US comedy star / actor Will Forte is also along for the ride, playing a hokey singer who had a one hit wonder but has failed to find success since. Having moved to Ireland because he loves the simplicity of the local folk (and possibly due to tax reasons, but he’d of course never admit to such a thing) he’s desperate to be find fame again and so attempts to make a deal with the devil. He’s doing a pretty grand job of it as well until Rose sticks her oar in, and so he has to find a way to stop her foiling his evil plans.

A lot of the best jokes come from the way film mixes the mysterious with the mundane, Rose’s interactions with the undead are treated as if it were the kind of thing that happened to everyone each and every day, and the same applies with the manner Martin’s wife haunts him, often sending him messages burnt in toast or by writing words in a steam covered mirror (“You Must Pay…The Car Tax” being the one which made me laugh the most), and both respond to such oddity with very casual disdain.

It’s a similar situation with how Christian and his wife Claudia (Claudia O’Doherty) treat their attempts to take part in ungodly acts, which peaks with a beautiful bit of absurdity towards the end as Claudia’s more interested in getting a Chinese takeaway delivered than her husband’s attempts to sacrifice a virgin to the demon Astaroth, it may sound like a formula for a joke which is overused from all of the above but they carefully vary it enough each time that it never stops being very funny indeed.

There’s also some cute footage from Rose’s father’s tv series (with one bit at the beginning discussing how cheese causes nightmares as “Even the weakest ghost can possess cheese quite easily” being presented in an incredibly funny way) and throughout the film the script is often hilarious and also very self-aware, all of the writers clearly know their genre well and mine a lot of fantastically funny moments from it, with the way it ends being bloody special indeed.

It’s a film which manages to create a variety of very different but very elaborate characters with what looks like ease, and all of whom are oddly likeable even if they are technically murderous bastards. The acting from all involved is superb, the effects are mostly simple but very effective, and this is something of a gem, a genre comedy which does something new for once rather than relying on hackneyed ideas and gags.

★★★★

Alex Finch.
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