Extra Ordinary [Fantasia International Film Festival Review]

Extra Ordinary made me laugh from start to finish. The horror-comedy, which screened at the 2019 Fantasia International Film Festival, is reminiscent of pictures like Shaun of the Dead and Tucker & Dale vs. Evil in the way it mixes character-based humor with a spoofing of horror conventions. Hilarious, occasionally gory, and oddly sweet, this is one of the year's comedic highlights.

Maeve Higgins plays Rose Dooley, a driving instructor in a small Irish town. Her father was a well-known psychic. She's got the gift, too, but after inadvertently causing his death years ago, she gave up on the paranormal. Any pretense that she can leave it behind for good is shattered with the arrival of Christian Winter (Will Forte), a one-hit wonder who has made a literal deal with the devil for more musical success. To fulfill his end of the bargain, he needs to sacrifice a virgin, and his choice is the daughter of a local widower, amusingly named Martin Martin (Barry Ward). Rose previously rejected Martin's request for help in dealing with his deceased wife's angry ghost. She can't say no once it becomes clear his child is in danger.

That may or may not sound funny, so consider this important fact one more time: Will Forte plays an untalented singer making a pact with Satan. If that sounds funny, then Extra Ordinary is the movie for you. There are two types of humor here. Some of the jokes have that droll Irish wit about them. Characters understate situations in a manner that catches you off-guard, or exhibit amusing quirks, like how Rose speaks to a “haunted” tree branch every time she drives down a certain stretch of road.

Extra Ordinary

Other bits are more outrageous, as when Martin has to allow himself to be possessed so that he can vomit up the ectoplasm Rose needs. Many of the scenes with Christian have this sort of craziness, as well. His method of using a special phallic staff to find a virgin may cause you to laugh hysterically, as I did. Same goes for the uproarious thing Rose and Martin do during their climactic battle with Christian. There has probably never been another movie in which a certain act has been used to ward off a demonic attack.

In the lead role, relative newcomer Maeve Higgins proves to be a major discovery. She makes the lonely Rose someone we really care about, while simultaneously displaying impeccable comedic timing. Her delivery of the script's jokes is spot-on. Will Forte is a similarly a riot. He's skilled at playing characters who are clueless about their own cluelessness, and Christian is no different. He's too stupid to be truly evil. Instead, his evil is almost accidental; this deeply untalented singer is tinkering with something he doesn't understand. Forte brings that notion alive beautifully.

Directed by Mike Ahern and Enda Loughman, Extra Ordinary lives up to its title. Smartly written and perfectly acted, it provides big laughs on a regular basis. I loved every second of this movie.

Extra Ordinary is unrated, but contains comic bloody violence, language, and some sexuality. The running time is 1 hour and 34 minutes.