'Extra Ordinary' Review: A Sweet Irish Rom-Com With Paranormal Activity [SXSW]

Mike Ahern and Edna Loughman's Extra Ordinary comes together as the tonal lovechild of Jared Hess and Taika Waititi, playfully mocking horror beats instead of unleashing them. It's more a cutesy rom-com with expelled ectoplasm goo than completionist horror dive into Drag Me To Hell territory, but when subdued haunting gags land, laughs project with ease. Expect dry Irish wit, flamboyant musicians selling their souls for another hit record, and home appliances that wave at you. Quite a motley assembly of descriptors, yet together, they make for one uniquely lighthearted horror comedy that's a cut above ordinary.Maeve Higgins stars as Rose Dooley, a private driving instructor who refuses to acknowledge her bestowed talent as a ghost whisperer. Not since "the incident," when she accidentally murdered her father and renowned "Investigating The Extraordinary" host Vincent Dooley (Risteard Cooper). Rose lives alone, eating single-serving yogurts atop her exercise ball, but her life turns for the interesting when Martin Martin (Barry Ward) requests her council given his paranormal hiccup. Rose comes out of retirement with the hope she'll find true love, but can the out-of-practice medium save Martin's daughter Sarah (Emma Coleman) before newfound satanist and one-hit-wonder Christian Winter (Will Forte) completes his Blood Moon ritual?If you're wondering, yes – Will Forte is a scene stealer as the ascot-draped, famous-for-fifteen-minutes artist who (briefly) shocked the world with lounge hit "Cosmic Woman." The actor brings his signature emotive overzealousness and bullseye comedic timing to Christian Winter, whose wife Claudia (portrayed hilariously by the gum-chewing Claudia O'Doherty) couldn't care less that Lucifer's doorway is about to appear in her house. Claudia's constant interruptions pull Christian from black magic rituals for dinner or something entirely less important, as Forte's "Coming darling!" niceties contrast humorously against his thirst for vestal purity.Will Forte as a mustachioed, egotistically-driven, newbie sacrificer to the underworld who's in entirely over his head? Like there's anything to doubt about that sentence.As Rose and Martin grow closer, attempting to save Sarah from her self-combusting fate or worse, a love triangle unfolds since Martin's house is "haunted" by the essence of his dead wife who still runs his life. Dresses him, throws out jump food, jealousy sabotages tomato sauce – the works. Never scary, more like "floating" foods on strings and goofball Paranormal Activity lite antics that are never meant to harm (except when Martin openly flirts with Rose in front of his invisible sweety). Maybe some Nina Forever undead threesome darkness to boot, but in any case, Higgins and Barry Ward strike chemistry that's befittingly adorable in its normalcy.Everyday citizens in an outrageous scenario who believe the best in themselves after being scared into structured mundanity? Not everyone's speed – a bit stale air for some, no doubt – but those in the mood for a heartwarming story about supernatural investigations should find sugary-safe pleasure.As Christian's scheme and Rose's rescue mission draw closer to finality, Extra Ordinary upturns all its cards during an evil incarnate, batshit-bonkers finale that goes indie-budget kitchen sink by tearing a literal hole in the ground. Everything climaxes at once – Rose and Martin's "will they, won't they," Christian's face-to-face with his dark lord (wait 'till you see the design), Claudia's Chinese food delivery, a pregnancy situation, Sarah's virginal offering – we await third-act payoff and are certainly not let down. Getting there will be the challenge for some, but if you can survive deadpan everyday witticisms under the sanguine saturation of James Mather's Blood Moon cinematography (attractive framing and production designs, here), you won't be cheated.Does Extra Ordinary rewrite the book on horror comedies? Far from it. Do Ahern and Loughman pay homage to classics such as The Exorcist and Ghostbusters with cheeky delight? To our advantage. Is there something unshakably endearing about this soft-spoken glimpse into the unknown? To this critic. It's build-yourself-up reassurance that shows a gentler side to the horror genre, comfortable in its own (unseen) skin. That's not just the Will Forte stan in my talking, either. Or my love of the newfound concept of "ghost cheese."/Film Rating: 7 out of 10