Humour and horror may elicit different reactions, a giggle or a gasp, but in many ways they are the flip sides of the same coin. Both genres rely on timing and tension to make their point and both act as stream valves for emotions. A case in point? The supernatural shenanigans of “Extra Ordinary,” a new film now on VOD, starring Will Forte as a Satanist, that finds a very pleasing mix of silly and scary.
Set in rural Ireland, “Extra Ordinary” is the story of Rose (Maeve Higgins), a driving instructor with a gift for communicating to the dead courtesy of her late celebrity ghost buster father (Risteárd Cooper). People leave her messages asking her to use her supernatural skills for all sorts of things including, “finding my charger” and “looking into whether I’m pregnant.” She has left the paranormal behind, haunted by the unfortunate childhood accident that claimed her father’s life during the exorcism of a dog. “I don’t use my gifts anymore,” she says. “It’s too dangerous.”
In another part of town recent widower, the double-named Martin Martin (Barry Ward), is having some problems with his late wife who won’t stay dead—she stills runs the house and leaves messages like “You Must Pay… the Car Tax written in the steam on the bathroom mirror—and his teenage daughter Sarah (Emma Martin) has had enough. “We can’t go on like this,” says Sarah. “If you are too scared, I’m going to call someone.” “Who you gonna call,” Martin replies, in one of the film’s many references to other spooky movies.
Of course, the only person in town to call is Rose. She resists but gives in when one-hit-wonder Christian Winter (Will Forte) enters the picture. He’s a Satanist who needs to sacrifice a virgin so his next album will be a hit and he has his eye on Sarah. “They say the devil is in the details,” Christian says, “and on this album all the details are just right.”
“Extra Ordinary” works so well not because of the gross outs—which are low fi but fun—and not simply because of the jokes but because of the characters. Higgins, as the lonely and lovable Rose shares great chemistry with Ward, who displays laser sharp comic timing as he, possessed by the ghost of his late wife, jumps from personality to personality. Forte ups the ante, bringing his “in for a penny, in for a pound” style of extreme characterization to Christian, teetering on the edge of overkill with his blend of buffoonery and mysticism but never topples over.
Directors and co-writers Enda Loughman and Mike Ahern find just the right mix of laughs and lunacy to underscore “Extra Ordinary’s” story of lost souls looking to move on with their lives after loss, even if the passed on still cast a long shadow. “You are not killing my dead wife,” Martin says in a line that sums up the movie’s absurdity and humanity in just seven words.