REVIEW: Extra Ordinary [2019]

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

  • Rating: R | Runtime: 94 minutes
    Release Date: September 13th, 2019 (Ireland)
    Studio: Wildcard Distribution / Cranked Up Films
    Director(s): Mike Ahern & Enda Loughman
    Writer(s): Mike Ahern & Enda Loughman

The fragrant aroma of purity.


When weird, unexplainable happenings occur—it’s probably a ghost. At least that’s what Vincent Dooley (Risteard Cooper) based a career of dealing with the paranormal upon. A producer of VHS tapes that taught audiences about these experiences as a group of phenomena he coined “Talents,” he also spoke with the dead. Alongside his young daughter Rose (who possessed the gifts necessary to deal with the more practical aspects such as incantations and guiding spirits into the afterlife), Vincent toured Ireland with the hope of helping those in need. Sometimes it was saying goodbye to a loved one who refused to let go. Sometimes it was ensuring a loved one passed away peacefully. After a tragic accident left him dead, however, Rose (Maeve Higgins) wished to forget it all.

It’s not that easy, though, if ghosts are truly as prevalent as the Dooleys know they are. Rose can padlock shut the room with all her father’s accoutrements to start a business as a driving instructor if she wants, but she can’t simply disregard what’s staring her in the face every time she drives by a waving tree branch trying to get her attention. That she and her father were famous isn’t much help either since every honest-to-goodness haunted person and crackpot alike leave daily messages on her phone to beg for her to have a look. It takes a toll on Rose’s life since she can’t trust whether people want to meet her or use her for talents she now fears after blaming herself for Dad’s demise.

Filmmaking duo Mike Ahren and Enda Loughman must therefore present their lead character a scenario that she cannot simply dismiss sight unseen. They have to make it personal in a way that will open her eyes to the good memories she had when “ghost hunting” while also creating the opportunity to make new ones en route to saving someone’s life. Rose’s father believed she was extraordinary and in her mind she didn’t live up to that billing. So she spent the next few decades doing whatever she could to be extra ordinary instead. Even if she fooled herself (she didn’t), the people around her never would because they still remembered. They remembered so well that a teenager who wasn’t born until after Vincent’s death even knows her legacy.

This girl (Emma Coleman‘s Sarah) becomes the catalyst behind everything that occurs during Extra Ordinary. She both forces her widower father (Barry Ward‘s Martin) to call Rose after the ghost of her mother Bonnie injuries him yet again and is forced by way of a Satanic ritual to float to one-hit wonder Christian Winter’s (Will Forte) castle. The former act introduces Rose into their lives only for her to refuse assistance while the latter act twists her arm into providing expertise after all since the stakes of virginal sacrifice prove much too high to ignore. She can stop the girl from traveling to her as yet unknown assailant, but only temporarily. They’ll need to procure the ectoplasm of seven ghosts in two days to break the bond permanently.

The resulting buddy comedy becomes an adventure across town to hear what strangers have to say about haunted garbage totes and redheaded werewolves. Martin is up for anything (which is good since he has to act as a vessel for the ghosts they’re exorcising and thus the obtainer of said ectoplasm in a not so pleasant way). He wants to protect his daughter at all costs because she’s all he has left. It’s a big reason why he tolerates the violent yet educational antics of his dead wife. He’s afraid he’ll fail Sarah without Bonnie’s reminders and can handle the bumps and bruises that come along. Martin doesn’t want to remove his training wheels and take that first ride alone, but that’s exactly what he needs to do.

Rose must confront a similar realization to overcome her own fears too. Locking away her natural gifts because of what happened in the past means she’s failed to act for people in need—including herself. She was never happier than when she was by her father’s side to investigate the paranormal and now she’s toiling away her life in the passenger seat of her own car as people destroy her transmission to eventually pass their driving tests. The one thing she loves has become the one thing she’s forbidden herself to even think about and it’s left her socially awkward and avoidant as a rule. That she and Martin would meet is therefore a godsend. Finally they each have someone to talk to who doesn’t think they’re crazy.

That’s not to say they aren’t kooky nonetheless. This isn’t a bad thing, though, since it leads to some wonderfully funny interactions that are mostly a product of Rose “giddily” hoping their professional union will lead to something more personal. Cue the sexual faux pas to complement a persistent insecurity that ravages both their lives to provide ample entertainment on its own. That Ahern and Loughman’s villain would be a harried Will Forte is thus a bonus. As Rose and Martin struggle to save a life, he and his hilariously uncouth and self-centered wife Claudia (Claudia O’Doherty) roll the dice to save their checkbook. They don’t really know what they’re doing (see an exploded corpse as evidence), but they know Christian’s “talent” will never be enough for success.

Count on a mixture of dryly-witty wordplay and surreal absurdity throughout as these two pairs work their way towards an inevitable convergence with Sarah and a demon caught in the middle. Forte and O’Doherty are obvious highlights, but the rapport between a game Ward as the comedic straight man with enough awkwardness of his own and the adorably endearing Higgins as the relatable punch line is where Extra Ordinary excels. Their innocent relationship may turn crudely opportunistic on a dime when the stakes are highest, but they never break character—not even when confronted with one of the best cut-to-black exchanges I’ve seen in quite some time. All they needed to awaken from their respective doldrums was a homicidal act of the dark arts to clumsily battle together.


photography:
courtesy of Cranked Up Films

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