“Why does it have to be unnecessarily gross?” asks Martin Martin (Barry Ward) in the horror romcom “Extra Ordinary,” a question that applies just as well to the film itself.
The plot of this very Irish, very dry comedy involves a virgin sacrifice, a fading rock star (Will Forte) and all sorts of ghost and ectoplasm nonsense. There’s plenty of “Ghostbusters” and “The Exorcist” in the film’s DNA, but the closest point of comparison may be Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy with Edgar Wright.
The jokes are wry and dry and often quite funny. The cast, led by an endearing Maeve Higgins as a ghost-fighting driving instructor, is likable and funny, and they land punchline after punchline.
It all builds to a fever pitch in a conclusion that is more frantic than funny. And all the splayed intestines and slit throats going around may distract from the overall silliness a bit too much.
Still, “Extra Ordinary” (rated R for language, sexual content and some horror violence) is a solid outing for horror and comedy fans, and it consistently surprises all the way to the end. It’s silly and slight and not quite extraordinary. But it still manages to surpass the horror comedy ordinary, and it could make for an amusingly off-kilter date night pick.
As beautiful, impressive and starkly chilling as the chalk cliffs near Seaford, England that serve as its backdrop, “Hope Gap” is a rarity- a smart, taut, well-acted drama for adults.
Directed by William Nicholson and adapted from his Tony-nominated play “The Retreat from Moscow,” “Hope Gap” follows a British family whose patriarch Edward (Bill Nighy) has left wife Grace (Annette Bening) after 29 years of marriage.
One of the best qualities of “Hope Gap” is that it’s as much a celebration of marriage as it is a mourning of a marriage’s end. It asks the hard questions about how someone can experience unfathomable loss and still find the will to live, let alone move forward.
Nicholson gives his actors, including Josh O’Connor as the couple’s adult son, some hefty, thought-provoking monologues that they chew into with glee. Nighy and O’Connor are terrific; Bening is downright sublime. Some gorgeous cinematography and a lovely score help make “Hope Gap” (rated PG-13 for some thematic elements and brief strong language) an essential stop for lovers of quiet domestic dramas.
Some of Nicholson’s dialogue and metaphors are a bit on the nose, and not everyone will appreciate the film’s quiet ruminative vibe. But this is the sort of smart adult drama that I wish Hollywood would make more of – and that I wish more people would watch.
About the author
Stephen Dow is an award-winning journalist with a passion for film – not just consuming it, but thoughtfully and actively engaging with it. He believes that these modern myths have a lot to tell us about our world and ourselves. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.