In a world of the paranormal, where ghouls ooze ectoplasm and poltergeist terrorize innocent civilians with horrific acts of bothersome incantations, the chaotic stigma against these very invisible presences, is one that comes from discrete prejudice. Sure, we can debate for hours on end, if their either inherently fictional or real supernatural beings from the underworld; but when it comes to the representation of these living souls, we usually personify them as monsters of sorts. Sure there’s Caspar, and the occasional children’s animated flick such as Paranorman; yet when we look at most adult oriented entertainment, we can’t help but feel to route against these unknown creatures of modern mystery. Cut forward to present day, our general gaze towards the subject hasn’t really changed for the better or worse. However, if there’s any indicator of a conclusive source of media that will finally end the negative stigma against these paranormal identities, it has to be this year’s Extra Ordinary.
Played as a reinvention of sorts on the buddy horror comedy sub-genre, first time feature directors Mike Ahern and Enda Loughman have gracefully delivered a film that can be best described as a creative hodgepodge of genres. Tackling themes regarding satanic rituals, hauntings, self-doubt/redemption, and the everlasting stigma of letting go of deceased loved ones, Extra Ordinary is a film that ultimately has no right in being as poignant and versatile as it did with its subject matter. Nearly every joke hits, where the comedy ultimately aids the film’s obscure perspective into rural “small-town” behavior. The physically demanding performance from Bary Ward especially, is one that will always remind me of how hilarious this film can be, with its plethora of juvenile and witty banter.
The film never takes itself seriously, and consistently turns our expectations over the audience’s head, amidst subjects that we’ve previously known and related too. This of course comes with the depiction of the film’s grand elephant in the room; the ghoulish phantoms. None of the ghosts, with the exception of one satanic spirit that appears near the finale of the film, come off as antagonizing nor vicious. They all seem like mutual neighborhood spirits, that mean-well with each of their annoying hauntings. Yet what ultimately shifts the film’s quality at the end of the day, is the crude and often times vicious climax, where the film takes a route that feels more tonally dysfunctional; which doesn’t particularly mix well with the surrounding heartfelt elements, that the film previously did so well.
Beautifully constructed and loaded with plenty of compassion towards the film’s initial influences, Extra Ordinary is guaranteed to attract a major cult following. There’s nothing really quite like it! From Maeve Higgins graceful and relatable lead role, to Will Forte’s humorous approach to the mockery of pop culture and the music industry; there’s plenty of fun to be had with Ahern’s and Loughman’s debut feature vision. It does lose steam in it’s final few minutes, yet the ghoulishly inventive artistic approach to the world of the paranormal, is one that will be rarely seen again with such a humanistic lens.
Extra Ordinary screened at this year’s Fantasia Film Festival. Cranked Up Films will later release the film for a potential 2019 Bow