Horror and comedy are two ingredients that are great separated, but more often there’s a flood of them on the market that don’t stick the landing. With the help of a talented cast, wonderful direction, and a clever script, Extra Ordinary elevates beyond the indie horror-comedy trappings and delivers a story that is oddly weird at times as it is funny and sweet...
...The basic premise of the film follows lonely driving instructor Rose Dooley (Maeve Higgins), known around town for her “talents” to communicate with spirits in the land of the dead, as she comes across teenager Sarah Martin (Emma Coleman) and her father Martin Martin (Barry Ward) and her request to help exorcise the spirit of her recently deceased and nagging Mother from her and her father’s home. All the while, Rose has to contend with a Satan Worshipping Christian & Claudia Winter (Will Forte & Claudia O’Doherty) that have their eyes set on using young Sarah as a virgin sacrifice to the dark lord himself, as part of their plan to resurrect their long dead Christian Rock career.
That plot under less talented hands sounds bloated, overreaching, mean spirited, and an overall disaster for a horror comedy, but enormous credit has to go to the writing and directing team of Mike Ahern & Enda Loughman for striking a perfect balance between all of the crazy elements while never losing sight of the human story at the center of the film. This film is primarily marketed as a comedy, but don’t go in expecting an over the top laugh fest. That is not to say that there aren’t huge laughs to be had from this film, but that the laughs are understated and effective. The problem with a lot of comedies, especially these days is that filmmakers are trying to do the math for the audience and feed the laughs. This film respects the audience enough to be able to process the comedy as the situations get more and more erratic without drawing attention to itself. Deadpan humor gets an unfairly bad rep when done wrong, but what this film does so effectively is give the laughs time to breath and allow the actors to let the humor come naturally. Under Ahern and Loughman’s direction, they show a natural talent for underplaying the comedic elements to the point that you can’t help but just lose it laughing at points, especially during the last act of the film. Kudos to the writing and the direction on all fronts.
You can’t talk about the humor of the film without talking about Maeve Higgin’s performance as Rose Dooley. Higgins carries this film on her shoulders. The film goes through a bit of a rocky start in terms of establishing its tone and the humor, but within ten minutes, you can’t help but love Rose’s character. One trapping of the horror comedy that this film surpasses with flying colors is the temptation to be mean spirited towards its characters. Without going into spoiler territory, you can tell that this film loves its characters enough to not use them as a punchline. Extra Ordinary introduces Rose and allows us to get to know her and you fall for her character. It builds to an arc that is hilarious, relatable, and ultimately a heartbreaking tale about someone who is looking to just have the Ordinary in her life without the baggage that comes with the Extra. It’s a credit that for a film co-staring Will Forte that the relative unknown Maeve Higgins holds her own with him and it’s a joy to watch their paths cross in the last act.
As great as Maeve Higgins is, the supporting cast only helps elevate her performance. Barry Ward’s performance as Martin Martin is the other stand out. Ward walks a fine line of relatable and very likable to just flat out hilarious in the last act of the film. It’s all a credit to his chemistry with Maeve. The relationship between the two isn’t played in anything overly cheesy, but in the sense that both characters want the same thing in their lives: Normality. It’s played in a way that Is deeper than an attraction, but is an actual connection between the two. Without giving anything away, Ward gets to show another side to his character and showcase his comedic skills in the last act that is one of the best parts of the entire film.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t also talk about Will Forte as Christian Winter. A Satanist posing as a Christian Rock musician is as crazy as it is genius. Forte is as hilarious and his playfulness with the role is apparent all throughout. The banter between Christian and his nagging wife Claudia, played by the wonderful Claudia O’Doherty, is infinitely entertaining, and one of the stand-out aspects of the film. Forte and O’Doherty have so many wonderful scenes together. Their comedic timing bouncing off each other is a treat to watch all the way through.
For as many positives as I have for the film, it’s not all perfect. While the film strikes a fine tone, the opening segment of Extra Ordinary gets off to a rocky start. Luckily the film quickly recovers from that slow start. Once the ride begins, it doesn’t stop delivering the laughs and topping itself. While the deadpan humor works largely, there are a few beats here and there that fall a bit flat. Overall, there are a few negatives, but nitpicks at best.
This is an enjoyable film that delivers on the premise, the laughs, the weirdness, and continues surprising the audience. The film has so much heart and ends up being a very sweet film, despite the blood, supernatural elements, and the Satan worshipping antagonists. Higgins’ charm coupled with her comedic sensibilities carries the film and it works as an entertaining piece. While trying to remain as spoiler free as possible, this review can’t prepare you for how weird and entertaining these situations get. It’s a pleasant surprise and is worth your time to seek out and support.
Get Extra Ordinary when it releases in theaters nationwide on March 6th from Cranked Up Films.
By Andres Gallego