The premise of Glorious lends itself well to one of those delectable one-line synopses: A man is trapped in a bathroom with an otherworldly being communicating with him through a glory-hole. That the voice of the mostly unseen being is provided by the great J.K. Simmons only sweetens the deal, even if you spend much of the movie wondering how the hell he was corralled into taking part in this madness in the first place. Glorious is the latest offering from horror journo turned filmmaker Rebekah McKendry, whose festive anthology All the Creatures Were Stirring was a surprisingly inventive little chiller. If it doesn’t necessarily all hang together in the end, Glorious is a reasonably diverting, and satisfyingly bloody enterprise that bodes well for McKendry’s future career above all else.
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True Blood’s Ryan Kwanten is Wes, who pulls into a rest stop after being on the road for so long he’s quite literally falling asleep at the wheel. Wes is reeling from a recent breakup and has a mysterious red box with him, the contents of which aren’t as important as how they were initially discovered, in flashback, by his ex-girlfriend. Wes gets drunk and throws a ritual bonfire, as you do, waking up with a raging hangover that necessitates putting his head in a nearby toilet. To his surprise, a voice begins speaking to Wes from the adjacent stall, through a metal-AF gloryhole. This entity claims to be Ghat, a universe-hopping celestial being who needs Wes’s help to save the world and everyone in it. Along the way, Wes learns how worthless life on earth really is now that he is alone.
Glorious doesn’t wear out its welcome, clocking in at just 80-minutes, and there’s a sense it may have functioned better as a short just because there isn’t a whole lot of meat on its bones. McKendry utilizes her single location well, retaining a sense of claustrophobia throughout while giving us a breather every now and again via flashbacks and short ventures outside. The screenplay, credited to Joshua Hull, David Ian McKendry and Todd Rigney, gives Simmons plenty of flowery dialogue to contend with and the veteran actor delivers yet another powerhouse performance (is there anything he can’t do?) despite being totally unseen throughout. Kwanten plays well off him too, especially considering he’s acting entirely by himself for the most part. Wes is quite a nihilistic character, but Kwanten makes him likeable despite it all, ensuring it’s not a chore to spend this much time with him.
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Glorious is shot through with verve and brio, with bisexual lighting akin to the recent, similarly Lovecraftian sci-fi opus Colour out of Space, and lashings of gory violence combining to create a joyfully anarchistic spirit. The film would make for a good double bill with the similarly constricted Stalled, an underseen but scrappy zombie movie set almost entirely in a bathroom stall. Wisely, the creature known as Ghat is barely glimpsed for the most part, with just a tentacle here and some gooiness there, to paper over the restraints of what was clearly a small budget. The fake blood does look strangely rusty, however, lacking the requisite gloopiness we’ve come to expect from an endeavor like this. There’s some decent body horror towards the end that makes up for it, though, and some genuinely funny lines, the standout of which might just be “you thought your human penis was going to save the universe!?”
It’s not entirely clear what it all means, but Glorious has plenty of fun with the restrictions of its single setting, and the movie should be commended for refusing to go beyond its means.
Catch Glorious exclusively on Shudder from August 18, 2022
WICKED RATING: 7/10
Director(s): Rebekah McKendry
Writer(s): Joshua Hull, David Ian McKendry and Todd Rigney
Stars: JK Simmons, Ryan Kwanten, Sylvia Grace Crim
Release date: August 18, 2022 (Shudder)
Run Time: 79 minutes