Few things are as instantly uplifting as a good horror comedy. It’s a difficult balance to strike, but when done well, they can win over even the darkest of hearts. If you’re in need of a good laugh and a heartwarming story, quirky Irish horror comedy Extra Ordinary is a solid selection.
Extra Ordinary follows driving instructor Rose Dooley (Maeve Higgins) who has done her best to suppress her former life as a psychic after her supernatural talents caused the accidental death of her father. When a ritual prepared by one-hit-wonder Christian Winters (Will Forte) leaves his daughter floating and possessed, Martin Martin (Barry Ward) calls on Rose to help, and she reluctantly agrees to dust off her skills to save the day.
Written and directed by Mike Ahern and Enda Loughman, Extra Ordinary is a delightful feature film debut. Blessed with a quick wit and a perfect cast — including comedic heavyweight Will Forte (Last Man on Earth) and comedy darling Claudia O’Doherty (Love) — it skips through each scene with a lighthearted ease.
Forte and O’Doherty ham it up, but they keep it at just the right energy so that it never feels excessive. Their passive bickering hits each comedic tone perfectly, really selling the exhausted nature of their relationship. They milk every scene for all it’s worth, and they’re both just so damn good at it.
Higgins as Rose is so instantly likable that you’re on board with her through the whole film. She has an innocent pleasence, and it’s thoroughly charming. Ward shows his versatility as an actor when his role demands a certain unexpected duality, which he pulls off to great comedic effect.
Together, Higgins and Ward have great chemistry with an awkward yet endearing romantic shuffle. Rose is flustered by her feelings, and it’s a very sweet peek at the early days of love. She seeks a confidant in her fiercely supportive sister, Sailor (Terri Chandler); the two have a no-questions-asked acceptance that is actually quite moving. Relationships are a focal point in Extra Ordinary, easing the story forward and giving it a bit more depth. Each performance is well developed and played with full commitment.
The film has a sensible enchantment; it’s modest with sparse yet well shot settings that are very down-to-earth. At risk of over-using the adjective, it’s just incredibly charming. The laughs are genuine and the spooky bits are vital yet never heavy-handed.
Extra Ordinary balances its humor with its horror very well. It’s definitely skewed more in the comedic direction, but it uses horror elements as a baseline and jumping off point for the story. Demons, dark rituals, sacrifices, and lingering spirits are the bread and butter of the film — literally everything revolves around the supernatural in one way or another. But because of the lighter tone, Extra Ordinary is broadly accessible. You could watch this with a friend who has no interest in the horror genre and they’d have a good time.
That said, there’s an excellent bloody surprise or two to keep your baser needs satisfied. The comedic vibe is ever-present, but it’s not at all afraid to dip into the dark side. As far as horror-comedies go, Extra Ordinary is rather sly. Where some films in the subgenre can feel a bit disjointed — jumping between tones and tripping in the process — the film’s two sides layer rather than compete. The story requires both to really work. The team of Ahern and Loughman have quickly found their footing, and as a result, Extra Ordinary hits the ground running.
Cheeky, charming, and completely enjoyable, the film spins a supernatural tale with a good sense of humor and pitch-perfect performances. If you’re in the mood for a horror comedy with a lot of heart and a great ghostly story, let Extra Ordinary lift your spirits.