Aug 25, 2022
Joshua Hall, David Ian McKendry, Todd Rigney
Ryan Kwanten, J.K. Simmons, Sylvia Grace Crim, André Lamar
Fleeing the end of a significant relationship Wes (Ryan Kwanten) has an emotional breakdown at a highway rest stop. Before he knows it, he is trapped in the public toilets with an ancient god (J.K. Simmons) that communicates with him through a glory hole.
Shudder’s latest release comes from a familiar face, director Rebekah McKendry is well known amongst genre fans not only as a filmmaker but as co-host of Fangoria’s Colors of the Dark podcast. Needless to say, expectation was high for this latest work.
Unfortunately, Glorious is not quite as outlandish as the premise suggests, and it largely rests upon its identity as ‘that film with the god in the glory hole’. Even more disappointing is the fact that it features the insufferable joke where a character recites back the premise in simplified terms to emphasise just how strange the situation is. “So you’re a god, living in a rest stop bathroom, in a stall that is glory hole adjacent. Is that it?”. Yes, we get it, we are meant to describe this film as weird.
Glorious’ focal point is Ryan Kwanten’s Wes, a man struggling to accept both the situation and more interestingly his complicated feelings around his own culpability for the ending of his relationship. Wes is a great example of an unlikeable protagonist that you begin to root for by default. Although it is frustrating watching his stubbornly reluctant arc towards redemption as it inevitably collides and conflicts with the supernaturally absolute nature of fate posited by Simmons’ Ghat. Simmons’ performance, as a character mostly obscured from view, is purely vocal and oddly reminds of 2001’s HAL. Off-kilter and grating in its passiveness, one could describe it as falling into an aural uncanny valley. Kwanten and Simmons may combine well enough but even at seventy-nine minutes the material they share is spread rather thin.
Visually, McKendry leans towards cosmic Lovecraftian horror with the use of bold, coloured lighting and tentacled monsters. Although the gunk and gore may be infrequent there is one particular standout moment, that I will not spoil, but it takes the form of a simple but brilliant, grotesque fading transition.
Ultimately, Glorious feels like a potentially great short film stretched over a feature-length run time. Considering the concept and personnel, it feels disappointing. Nonetheless, sign me up for the next McKendry film.