EXTRA ORDINARY *** Ireland / Belgium 2019 Dir: Mike Ahern, Enda Loughman. 94 mins
The first of several appealing gags in the wittily titled EXTRA ORDINARY sees the over-used “Based on a true story” tag (often present for supernaturally infused horror) wiped away by a departing bin lorry. Corny celebrity paranormal expert Vincent Dooley (cheese nightmares = you might have eaten a ghost) dies suddenly, leaving his daughter (Maeve Higgins), a psychic driving instructor, to take up his workload. She fancies woodwork teacher Barry Ward and uses her exorcism skills as a means of getting shot of his annoyingly persistent and intrusive dead wife.
Higgins makes for an engagingly unfashionable, dumpy, lonely heroine in this charming horror comedy, in which most of the laughs stem from the juxtaposition of the paranormal with the mundane. A sacrificial rite is interrupted by a Chinese takeaway delivery, green bins are possessed by evil, chips refuse to stay in the deep fat fryer during a haunting and an insight into Dooley’s career is captured via some convincingly rubbish old VHS tapes (“The Gloating”).
Some of the broader performances wear a bit thin: Will Fore’s one-hit-wonder 70’s American singer is the kind of character Matt Berry would have relished, complete with a failed attempt at a musical comeback with “I Like My Hat”. It’s visually impressive for a low budget genre movie, with a particularly cute pastiche of THE EXORCIST’s signature image. The denouement yields a guessable twist, but also has some priceless technicalities (“Only the tip went in!”). Thanks to Higgins’ performance, and the bravura personality-shifting undergone by Ward’s character, the movie also earns its moments of genuine sweetness.
Review by Steven West