Horror and comedy are both abundant genres in Hollywood. They're also both very difficult to pull off. For something to truly transcend it must accomplish a seemingly impossible number of tasks. For that reason, most entries from both of these genres exist somewhere in the middle ground. When trying to do both at the same time it can be doubly tricky. Such is the case with Extra Ordinary. This particular horror/comedy serves as a welcome send-up of the paranormal genre, even though it doesn't get to that next level.
Extra Ordinary centers on Rose (Maeve Higgins), a sweet, lonely driving instructor living in rural Ireland who is gifted with supernatural abilities. She has a complicated relationship with her 'talents' and does her best to ignore requests from locals who want her to put her powers to good use for them. Things change when Christian Winter (Will Forte), a washed-up, one-hit-wonder rock star, has made a pact with the devil for a return to his former glory. He puts a spell on a local teenager, which leads her father Martin (Barry Ward) to Rose in an effort to help his daughter. Rose must set aside her fear of her and work with Martin to save the girl.
This movie presents a lot of very interesting ideas that are worth exploring. Rose's dad, for example, is a former TV paranormal expert who tried to explain to the masses that ghosts aren't how we typically think of them. They're not always big monsters causing a huge ruckus. Often times, they just move a trash can lid or swing a tree branch. This concept is layered throughout the movie. It's a great way to treat one of horror's most beloved sub-genres with both reverence and loving derailment.
Writer/directors Mike Ahern and Enda Loughman clearly have a lot of love for what they're doing. It gives the movie some much-needed character, even if everything doesn't totally come together in every moment. Things are a bit uneven at times, perhaps a bit oddly paced. But there's more to like than dislike, for the right audience member. One key point is that this movie's humor is of the dry variety. I can't emphasize that enough. So very dry. Unbuttered toast dry. A towel fresh out of the dryer levels of dry. That's not a bad thing and I'm personally one who likes that sort of thing, but it doesn't land with everyone and that's very important to know going in.
When the gags aren't of the extra dry variety, they're slapstick sight gags that are very much on the nose, which works quite well, considering the material they're dealing with. The ace up this movie's sleeve is Will Forte, who always commits, even to the most bizarre and awkward roles. Nobody else could have brought Christian Winter to life in the same, satisfying way. I would watch a whole spin-off chronicling this guy's career, sort of in the way that Get Him to the Greek spun out of Forgetting Sarah Marshall.
But I digress. Here's the main point about this SXSW participant; this movie exists firmly in that middle ground between bad and transcendent. Exactly where it lands will have a lot to do with the individual viewer, but it's a terribly charming movie with an equally charming cast that will provide a good smile or two. Sometimes, that's more than enough. Extra Ordinary arrives later this year from Epic Pictures.