GRIMMFEST 2019: Extra Ordinary – movie review

Extra Ordinary. Image credit: Courtesy of Grimmfest

I’ve been granted press accreditation for the 11th Grimmfest, the Manchester’s International Festival of Fantastic Film. So, I had the opportunity to watch and review a bunch of upcoming horror movies. This is my review of Extra Ordinary (Ireland, Mike Ahern & Enda Loughman, comedy/horror).

Based on a British tabloid article that sounded too silly to be ignored, Extra Ordinary is the first feature film that Ahern and Loughman wrote and directed together, although prior to it the couple had a 10-year-long career in writing and directing short movies and music videos.

Here, the story revolves around Rose (Maeve Higgins), a sweet, lonely driving instructor in rural Ireland, who is gifted with supernatural abilities. Rose has a love/hate relationship with her ‘talents’ & tries to ignore the constant spirit related requests from locals. At the same time, Christian Winter (Will Forte), a washed up, one-hit-wonder rock star, has made a pact with the devil for a return to greatness: to achieve that, he puts a spell on a local teenager. Her terrified father, Martin Martin (Barry Murphy), asks Rose to help save his daughter. Rose has to overcome the fear of her supernatural gift and work with Martin to save the girl.

Continue reading and check my final grade below… 

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Horror-comedies can be hit or miss, with only a few titles that stood out in the last two decades. Ahern and Loughman, though, completely understood what ingredients they needed to make a successful, enjoyable, thrilling movie in the sub-genre: Extra Ordinary is really a blast.

This film understands how much character development and stylisation are important in the sub-genre, since it nails those aspects almost perfectly.

Without shying away from gore and spooky sequences, Extra Ordinary is hilarious from start to finish due to the chemistry between the actors and the dry, British humour that comes to the surface not just in the dialogues, but also through visual gags.

The script truly helps the actor to shine in this movie: the leads are hilarious, and they play off each other quite convincingly because there isn’t a single character in Extra Ordinary that’s written to be either serious or funny all the time. Every character in the story feels like a real, genuinely funny person, which is also achieved by the clever way of presenting the dialogue: “uhms” and “errr” are kept in the final cut to provide the audience with the sensation they’re watching real people interacting.

As I said before, the comedy doesn’t just come from the actors. The way this movie is shot, the attention to what’s in frame and the Edgar Wright-esque’s editing style are part of what makes Extra Ordinary such an entertaining ride, since your eyes and your brain never get tired of finding visual references and jokes. A big role in this regard is played by the camera-work, which is very versatile and incorporates quite a lot of diverse angles, shots and movements. For instance, the opening scene (with a square aspect ratio, which is a reoccurrence in the film) sets the tone nicely and captures the attention of the viewer due to its quirky nature.

Yet, Extra Ordinary works as a spoof of the supernatural horror sub-genre with its subtle and comedic assessment of tropes and clichés. In this regard, the movie is also filled with references to horror classics: most of them are clever and self-aware, although sometimes the filmmakers go too far with them in a way that feels quite gimmicky and annoying.

Despite the fast and captivating pacing, this movie takes a bit of a dive between the second and third act. There are a few moments where the film solely focuses on character development (which is a good thing), but it does so by presenting the story in a rather formulaic and uninteresting way, showing a lack of interesting visuals and quirky moments (which is not a good thing).

Overall, if you like quirky and smart horror-comedies with good acting, distinctive visual style, off-beat jokes, amazingly entertaining characters and subtle humour, you should definitely add Extra Ordinary to your watchlist!

Extra Ordinary                                   8/10

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