The laughs come thick and fast immediately in this utterly delightful Irish horror comedy as we’re witness to a lo-fi Garth Marenghi-esque paranormal video where a renowned spiritualist warns that ghosts are everywhere around us, even in the least conspicuous, often hilarious, places. This genuine laugh out loud opening really helps set the endearingly dippy tone of what’s to come. The directorial team of Enda Loughman and Mike Ahern – both making their feature debuts, as well as being credited as co-writers – strive to craft a homespun blarney variation on Ghostbusters, and they succeed gloriously in doing so, helped immeasurably by their appealing leads.
One of those is Irish comedienne Maeve Higgins, who plays Rose Dooley – the daughter of the medium from the opening video. Rose is an unassuming, down on her luck driving instructor who has been forced to keep a lid on her own powerful psychic skills owing to a family tragedy years back. She’s regularly pestered by her neighbours and locals to perform a number of low rent exorcisms on haunted household items, but prefers to spend her evenings alone in the kitchen, mainly consuming yoghurt. When Martin (Barry Ward) the widowed father of a possessed teenage girl contacts Rose – he himself also has to contend with his late wife forever badgering him from the afterlife – she finds herself being thrust into the satanic world of Christian Winter (Will Forte), an ageing one-hit wonder rock star desperate for a taste of fame again, whatever the cost.
Landing the talented Forte for the film – the other familiar name in the cast is Claudia O’Doherty, co-star in the Netflix comedy series Love – was obviously a huge coup for the makers in terms of boosting the film’s commercial prospects and appeal overseas. But as great as both Forte and O’Doherty are, the film belongs to Higgins and Ward. Familiar to Irish audiences, they should see their stock rise considerably after the film’s UK and State-side release. The two have fantastic chemistry together, and while Higgins is the beating heart of the film, Ward’s skills in physical comedy are tremendous, whether he’s being forced to cough up great globs of icky ectoplasm – which results in the film’s best visual gag – or fighting for control of himself when possessed by his irritating ghostly other half.
Throughout, Loughman and Ahern keep their film ticking along nicely, successfully blending the jumps with big laughs. For a film of this scale and budget, there’s a number of surprisingly polished and imaginatively-executed uses of CGI, not least during the equally disturbing and hysterical sight of the levitating body of Martin’s daughter being unceremoniously dragged through the air by a car in transit. The film’s fiery demonic finale is also a fine showcase for the film’s talented vfx team. An extremely big-hearted and constantly hilarious horror spoof – shot through with wonderful colloquial charm and humour – Extra Ordinary has future cult favourite written all over it.