Extra Ordinary. (2019)

Review: “You must pay”, say the ominous words written in condensation on a mirror in Extra Ordinary. – but then Martin Martin (Barry Ward) closes the other reflective panel on his bathroom cabinet, revealing the second half of the message: “the car tax.” These are instructions from Martin’s late wife Bonnie, still nagging him from beyond the grave – and their division between unnerving menace and hilarious mundanity perfectly encapsulates the generic dichotomy of horror-comedy. This division also conjures the very spirit of a film whose split title punningly merges the supernatural with the supernormal. For here, every otherworldly occurrence is undercut by bathetic banality: ghostly encounters, exorcisms and Satanic rituals are constantly interrupted with food breaks and house cleaning; hauntings occur in cheese, potholes and toasters; and the dead remain unrestful over their concerns about the wrong kind of rubbish being placed in the recycling bin.

Ever since a childhood mistake led to the death of her father (and ghostbusting partner) Vincent Dooley (Risteard Copper), Rose (Maeve Higgins) has turned her back on her spiritualist talent, and is now a single adult working as a driving instructor. Yet woodwork teacher Martin’s tentative approach to Rose for an ‘ex-wife-orcism’ on Bonnie coincides with American one-hit-wonder Christian Winter (Will Forte) targeting Martin’s teenaged daughter Sarah (Emma Coleman) for a demonic virgin sacrifice to get his musical mojo back. So Rose reluctantly teams up with Martin to save Sarah, along the way releasing both him and herself from the guilty burden of unresolved pasts. For if, as Vincent claims in one of his glitchy old VHS tapes, ghosts are really “stuck people, lonely people, ordinary people”, that also describes these living characters, in need of a little help “to move on”. 

Amidst all the paranormal activity and surreal comedy of Extra Ordinary. is a romance – of the will-they-won’t-they variety – as Rose and Martin keep shying away from expressing their obvious feelings for each other, building to a very funny pay-off when Martin finally works up the courage to declare his love. Before that, though, Bonnie’s resentment of Rose’s presence in Martin’s life leads to a bizarre love triangle that only escalates as the shrewish ghost takes possession of her former husband during a comically unsexy sex scene that Rose, sharing a post-coital cigarette with her rival, is happy to boast was a ‘threesome’. Much as Martin (in a versatile performance from Ward) finds himself switching between multiple characters and two sexes, the direction of the film itself is divided between the perspectives of Mike Ahern and Enda Loughman (who previously collaborated on short films The Hatch, 2011, and Mr. Foley, 2009). “I’d just like everything to be ordinary,” Rose declares in Extra Ordinary. – yet the film, ‘based’, according to knowingly daft text near its beginning, ‘on a true story’, sets out to expose the odd, the irrational and (especially) the absurd that lurk, sometimes unnoticed, in the everyday fabric of our lives. 

Synopsis: Ireland, today. Believing that, as a child, she caused her medium father Vincent’s death while assisting him in an exorcism, Rose Dooley has abandoned her spiritualist talent for a career as a driving instructor. Haunted by his late wife Bonnie, Martin Martin tries to secure Rose’s services. Washed-up American singer Christian Winter plans to resurrect his fortunes by sacrificing a virgin – but when his wife Claudia accidentally kills the girl, Christian casts a spell on Martin’s teen daughter Sarah. Finding Sarah asleep and levitating, Martin calls on Rose, who puts a holding spell on Sarah and teams with Martin in collecting the ectoplasm from seven departing ghosts to reverse the incantation spell on Sarah. To stop this, Christian hires Rose as his driving instructor, and steals some of her hair. As Martin and Sarah begin exorcising Bonnie (the seventh ghost), Christian uses a ritual to remove Rose’s ghost-talking powers. As Sarah floats off to Christian’s castle, Martin (half-possessed by Bonnie), Rose, Rose’s pregnant sister Sailor and Sailor’s boyfriend Brian pursue, guided by a magpie. Annoyed by Claudia’s interruptions, Christian cuts her throat, and raises the demon Astaroth. Astaroth rejects Sarah for not being a virgin, but identifies Rose as a virgin. Rose invites Martin to deflower her quickly, which Martin does (partly as Bonnie). Sarah pushes Christian into Hell. Sailor gives birth. The magpie reveals itself to be Vincent, assures Rose she was never to blame for his death, and passes on. Rose and Brian become ghostbusting partners, but she rejects his marriage proposal.