“Come on, Martin. That ectoplasm’s not going to collect itself.”

Believe it or not, those are some of the most endearingly romantic words I’ve heard in a movie this year.

It’s not just the words, spoken by retired ghost-buster Rose Dooley to one of her clients, Martin Martin, a haunted widower. It’s not just the context — she’s trying to round up that famously sticky residue that Ghostbusters taught us to expect when a ghost has been busted. Nor is it the actress who speaks them, although Irish comedian and writer Maeve Higgins proves to be a fantastic comedy lead.

Rose Dooley (Maeve Higgins) may be my favorite film character of 2020. (Image from Cranked Up Films trailer.)

No, it’s the very particular chemistry cultivated between Rose and Martin (Barry Ward) by the writers and directors Mike Ahern and Enda Loughman in Extra Ordinary, their genre-hopping debut.

This is a difficult movie to describe because its characters are so distinct, its comic tone is so complicated, and its storytelling takes so many unexpected turns. In fact, it’s a familiar challenge: I’ve had difficulty writing about Edgar Wright’s brilliant Cornetto trilogy — Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End — for the same reasons. Is it evidence of filmmaking genius when a critic finds it so difficult to summarize what makes a movie so satisfying? As a comedy, as send-up of horror movies, as a romance — Extra Ordinary succeeds at all of these things. Come to think of it, I’d be thrilled if they made some sequels just to be back in this movie’s world again, with these particular characters.

Let me take another swing at describing the premise here:

Rose and Martin (Barry Ward) must hunt down ghosts under a “blood moon.” (Image from Cranked Up Films trailer.)

Rose Dooley is a patient, good-humored driving instructor is drawn back into paranormal investigation by Martin Martin, a troubled single father whose ex-wife is haunting his house with a fierce temper. What they don’t know is that their case is about to become more complicated due to the interference of the nefarious Christian Winter (Will Forte at his most manic), an American pop-star-turned-Satanist. (Yes, you read that right.)

And yet, as Martin persuades Rose to go back to her old job — the one she abandoned due to her part in a tragic ghost-busting accident — she begins to see him as more than just a client; she imagines he has potential as a partner… in more ways than one.

Christian Winter (Will Forte) has made a deal with the devil to escape the curse of being a one-hit wonder.

That’s the gist of it. I can’t imagine re-casting this in any way that works: The chemistry between Higgins and Ward somehow makes me believe this preposterous premise beginning to end. And it’s a bumpy ride: One moment the comedy is understated, sweet, and amusing, and the next it’s either jarringly gory (exploding farm animals!); hilariously raunchy (Winter seeks his ceremonial victims with an obscene divining rod); cleverly referencing a horror classic (watch for the Exorcist moment); or veering into stylized informational interludes that seem cut from a 1987 VHS tape.

Somehow, it all works.

Now Everett and Fay in The Vast of Night have competition for being 2020’s paranormal-investigation dream team: Rose and Martin form an inspiring partnership. (Image from Cranked Up Films trailer.)

I’m not going to give you more details than that — I hope you’ll have that rare moviegoing experience, as I did, of feeling like you’ve stumbled onto buried treasure. This has all the makings of a cult classic, like a paranormal Irish Napoleon Dynamite spiked with some of the same magic that animates the best comedies of Taika Waititi and Christopher Guest. I haven’t laughed out loud like this since 2018’s out-of-nowhere comedy Game Night. And that means that, while it’s not likely to be the most important movie I recommend this year, it’s likely to be the one I recommend most often.