Directed By: Rebekah McKendry
Starring: J.K Simmons, Ryan Kwanten, Sylvia Grace Crim
Plot Summary: After a breakup, Wes ends up at a remote rest stop. He finds himself locked inside the bathroom with a mysterious figure speaking from an adjacent stall. Soon Wes realizes he is involved in a situation more terrible than he could imagine.
Let me speak into the mic so that everyone can hear this. Rebekah McKendry should be on the radar of every fan of progressive horror. My hope is that her latest film, Glorious, which made a big splash at this year’s Fantasia Fest, will put many more onto her work. When I heard that this movie was about a mysterious glory hole starring Ryan Kwanten and J.K Simmons, well, I was hooked. The premise is thankfully just as wacky and wonderful as you might hope for and then some. I really like how, from the very first minutes, McKendry does a great job at grounding the story. Wes finding ways to deal with a painful breakup is pretty relatable to most people. Therefore, it’s easy to put you firmly on his side, while acting as a nice POV character for the madness that follows. Once Wes finds himself in the dirty men’s room, he and we the audience are stuck there with him for the next hour or so. What ensues is a Lovecraftian horror that works for the most part.
The casting of Ryan Kwanten is a stroke of genius. Kwanten seems to perfectly vibe with the material, and his boyish charms do double duty, making us like him, but also feel he is hiding something deep down. It’s not a terribly complex role, but he manages to find the nuances within and between the text which elevates things greatly. J.K. Simmons leads the voice of the mysterious being in the glory hole. I had the pleasure of talking to Rebekah, who recounted that Simmons was drawn to the weird script. I love that the Oscar-winning, beloved actor not only doesn’t look down his nose on such a project, he agreed to be in without hesitation. Simmons really does give this performance his all, and you can tell that he and Kwanten worked out their interactions beforehand. This means they have a nice volley between the two that feels natural, despite Simmons not physically filming with Kwanten.
Visually, the movie is just as wonderfully trippy as you’d hope for. Scenes at times bathed in neon pink feel oh so right in a cosmic horror outing. My biggest issue is, while the premise is no doubt an interesting one, it does have some built-in flaws. Mainly, the movie, which only clocks in at a tight 79 minutes suffers from pacing issues. I couldn’t help but feel that the movie in its second act starts to feel repetitive and sluggish. For the most part, the movie is kept to a single location, with the odd flashback to help fill in story and break things up. This is partly why I think the movie falls just a little flat, as is it paints itself into a grimy bathroom-sized corner. I wonder if this would have made a better short film. There is a pretty great plot twist that doesn’t come out of nowhere. However, I think that things could have been built up better to make the reveal more impactful.
Still, Glorious is a piss-stained cosmic nightmare that you wont soon forget! Though it does have some shaggy plotting, it’s an engaging and fun ride. I’ve been a big fan of Rebekah’s work and this new film did not disappoint.
Glorious is currently available to stream exclusively on Shudder.
Glorious is a piss-stained cosmic nightmare that you wont soon forget
Big film nerd and TCM Obsessed. Author of The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema from Schiffer Publishing. Resume includes: AMC’s The Bite, Scream Magazine etc. Love all kinds of movies and television and have interviewed a wide range of actors, writers, producers and directors. I currently am a regular co-host on the podcast The Humanoids from the Deep Dive and have a second book in the works from Bear Manor.