Extra Ordinary (2019) is an Irish horror comedy film written and directed by Mike Ahern and Enda Loughman. I recently came across this film on Netflix, and although it was released in September last year, I hadn’t really heard much about it. I decided to give it a watch, and I really enjoyed it so I thought I would share my thoughts.
Extra Ordinary is set in small and nondescript Irish town. The time frame is never addressed, although from the settings used it appears to be set in around the late 1990s or the early 2000s. The premise of the film is sees Rose, a driving instructor, has vowed never to use her supernatural abilities again. When Martin Martin asks for her help however, Rose must use her powers once again in order to save his daughter from the malevolent one-hit wonder Christian.
The film stars Maeve Higgins as the lead protagonist Rose Dooley, Barry Ward as Martin Martin, and Will Forte as Christian Winter. I haven’t seen Maeve Higgins star in anything before, but I thought she played the character of Rose brilliantly.
The two protagonists, Rose and Martin, each have their own character arc. Rose is soft-spoken and good natured, she comes across shy and timid at first, but the audience learns alongside Rose that she is determined and resourceful. The character of Martin sees himself as a bit of a pushover, having been nagged from beyond the grave by his late wife Bonnie. Eventually, Martin overcomes his namby-pamby ways in order to work with rose in their rescue mission.
Will Forte is Christian Winter, a washed-up pop star who had one hit song. We also learn he has a penchant for satanic magic and sacrificing virgins to the demon Astaroth. Alongside Forte starred Claudia O’Doherty as Claudia Winter, Christian’s equally nefarious wife.
First and foremost, Extra Ordinary is a genuinely humorous film, in as sweet and wholesome a way a film about satanic rituals can be. The title of the film highlights the importance of this sense of “ordinary”, and throughout the film what we, the audience, might consider ordinary is often juxtaposed with very unordinary goings ons. This only serves to further emphasise the ordinariness of the town and the everyday lives of the characters.
In this way, Extra Ordinary is reminiscent of Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead (2004). It places otherworldly, supernatural ideas and imagery we generally cannot relate to in everyday life in places like two-bedroom, semi-detached houses or a local convenience shops where we very much can relate.
As I mentioned earlier, Claudia O’Doherty stars in the film, and her character offers a real contrast to the other cast members. Claudia Winter’s personality is so brash and ostentatious that it further emphasises the normality of Rose and Martin’s character profiles.
I like that the film self-contains it’s own story. With so many new releases, it feels like every new film is an instalment in some big franchise, and it is really nice to watch a film that tells a complete story, with a beginning, a middle, and an end. I also really like the moral of the story. Both Rose and Martin learn to stop living in the past and overcome their fears to save Sarah.
Whilst Extra Ordinary is a horror-comedy, it isn’t particularly scary, but it is very funny and that works in its favour. The cinematography is very plain and centred, and as such avoids the trite horror tropes of the dutch angle and on-the-nose underscoring. Instead, the story seems to poodle along, slowly but steadily, feeling sure of itself.
I really liked this film, and the whole mood of it was definitely very much my cup of tea. I am fiend for weird demonic ritual plot lines and I enjoy the sort of gallows humour that goes along with it. I also like how understated the film is, there are plenty of one-liners and some particular shots that are truly funny but they don’t slap you in the face with a big “this is a joke” sign.
I would recommend this film to anybody who enjoys understated comedy and fondness for horror tropes.
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