31 Days of Hell: Paranormal-Comedy Extra Ordinary (2020) is a Delightful Blood Ritual (Reviewed)


Photo Courtesy of Cranked Up Films

“Why don’t we see ghosts every day?” Paranormal researcher Vincent Dooley asks this question on one of his many VHS tapes discussing otherworldly entities that play throughout the narrative of Irish import Extra Ordinary. This VHS aesthetic runs through Extra Ordinary, not so much in the look of the film, but rather in the unique yet nostalgic charm it manages to convey.  The film picks up with Vincent’s daughter Rose (Maeve Higgins), a lovable but lonely driving instructor living in a quaint home in Ireland. She has rejected her father’s teachings after a traumatic accident in her youth. Enter Martin Martin (Barry Ward), a widowed single father who is frequently haunted by the ghost of his late wife Bonnie. In the world of Extra Ordinary hauntings take on a, well, ordinary flair. This sets up one of Extra Ordinary’s strongest aspects: it’s charming physical comedy. Ghosts manifest in truly unique ways throughout the film: messages on toast, angry misplaced trash cans and waving branches all serve as cutesy manifestations. 

While Martin recruits Rose to help him with the haunting of his wife (under the guise of needing driving instruction), one-hit-wonder rock-pop musician Christian Winter (Will Forte) is preparing to sacrifice a virgin under a blood moon after making a pact with a demon to rekindle his music career. A mustachioed Will Forte shines in this role, given freedom to have fun with the hapless character who is in over his head with his dark arts dabbling, Forte takes his material and runs with it. Invoking funny faces, multiple weird voices, and a lovable villainous charm that only Will Forte can deliver, it should feel wrong to want to root for his character, but it’s hard not to.


Photo Courtesy of Cranked Up Films

Martin and Rose end up at odds with Christian, and Rose is forced to tap back in to her old paranormal talents. What follows is a clever, delightful romp through several paranormal hauntings. Directors Mike Ahern and Enda Loughman show a subdued tact with the story and their filmmaking, and this  carries over into the performances. The camera moves in an elegant, un-intrusive and purposeful manner, the cinematography isn’t mind blowing, but it is frequently used to set up and pay off gags. The characters all react in what are believable and intelligent ways, and that really helps to draw viewers in to the somewhat kooky story. Frequent cuts to Christian’s progress on setting up his ritual are fantastic, as is his relationship with his nagging and bored wife Claudia (Claudia O’Doherty). 

The comedy in the film is consistent, with several laugh out loud moments. Making frozen pizzas during an exorcism, confronting demons from the past, and Chinese takeout all provide big laughs, and while it may sound strange out of context, it is executed with perfect comedic timing by the cast. Extra Ordinary is not quite a horror movie, but it does present some haunting imagery with an interesting take on the classic bed-sheet ghost. 

Photo Courtesy of Cranked Up Films

Extra Ordinary, in time, is sure to find itself amongst horror-comedy classics like Shaun of the Dead and What We Do in the Shadows. An understated film that doesn’t overwhelm or overstay its welcome, Extra Ordinary strikes a perfect comedic tone and is worthy of repeat watching. 



- Neil Hazel