Saturday, March 16, 2019

SXSW with Abe: Extra Ordinary

I’m excited to be attending the film festival at South by Southwest for the second time, and I’ll be posting reviews throughout the week as I see as many movies as possible!

Extra Ordinary
Directed by Mike Ahern and Enda Loughman
Narrative Feature Competition

There are established tropes in most genres that make them easy to mock and, in many cases, the most popular renditions serve simultaneously as legitimate entries and self-parodies. Appreciating a more lighthearted, humorous approach to a subject does require some knowledge of and familiarity with more typical work of the same sort. Even with that, some attempts at making a comedy out of something that might (or might not) work better in a less comic manner still fall flat.

Rose (Maeve Higgins) runs her own driving school as a way to distance herself from the paranormal ghost-consulting services that defined her father’s career. When Martin (Barry Ward), who has never been able to get rid of his dead wife’s presence in his house, finds his daughter levitating above her bed, summoned in preparation to be sacrificed to the devil by failed rock star Christian Winter (Will Forte), he calls Rose for a driving lesson with a plan to beg her to return to her previous work and save his daughter from eternal damnation. Guilted into action and simultaneously attracted to the kindhearted Martin, Rose does her best to help him while trying not to make a fatal mistake like the one that prompted her to turn her back on the business years earlier.

This isn’t a film that pretends to be good, fully aware of the fact that any films of this sort about devil sacrifices or ghosts aren’t inherently serious even if they’re explicitly classified as horror. Forte’s portrayal of a one-hit wonder rocker who is so terrible at making music that he must resort to demonic sorcery in a warped attempt to achieve glory is particularly over-the-top, occasionally funny but ultimately the biggest proof that this film doesn’t have too much intelligence embedded within it. Its absurdity is not an asset.

Higgins, on the other hand, is a fantastic fit for the lead role, seemingly much more aware of what this film is trying to be than any other element in it. Her talents should be reserved for far better projects in the future. Ward is decent as the nervous Martin, but he and Higgins are about the only things worth praising in this irritating film that feels hopelessly unending at just ninety-five minutes. Describing the eventual direction of its plot highlights some potential that might have existed, but this finished product evidently values stupidity over anything else.


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