Imagine being trapped in a road stop bathroom with a Lovecraftian creature that has the voice of J.K. Simmons. Congratulations, you have found yourself in Glorious, the cosmic horror indie where there’s no toilet paper or paper towels but enough gooey surprises to satisfy some.
Rebekah McKendry’s film cloaks a character drama underneath the cosmic tellings of its mysterious visitor (whose name is as difficult to spell as it is for protagonist Wes to say, so I’ll just hold my tongue). As the ethereal mythology of Simmons’ creature is divulged, Wes (Ryan Kwanten) is weighed down by memories of his ex-wife. All the while, Wes must decide whether to continue trying to escape or help the thing on the other side of the stall door.
The first act of Glorious comes off like a character trying to have a conversation with an AI chatbot. Simmons’ first few pages of lines are stilted and non-specific, but this reads more comical than cryptic. The film delays the reveal of what Simmons’ is playing and what it is capable of, literally hiding its budget behind a stall door. Not that the budget is a hindrance, but the film suffers from its deliberate first half.
The conversation within the bathroom circles around two things. One, the creature in the stall has called on Wes to give it physical form. Two, Wes is caught up in the dissolution of his marriage with Brends (Sylvia Grace Crim). The film attempts to balance these two problems and give them equal weight. The script seems aware of the incongruous severity of these two things, and it does go for comedy at times. But the flashbacks to Brenda come off slight and superfluous, never getting to the heart of what makes the relationship and Brenda so special.
Meanwhile, the comedy is similarly lacking. The gags appear abruptly, fully pausing the weighty, universe-shattering stakes of what lies behind the stall for a quick laugh. These jokes — Wes urinating while Simmons is trying to speak, or Wes using a severed limb to try and break down a locked door — never landed for me.
Glorious occasionally explodes into mayhem. Nothing particularly extravagant, but enough to provide glimpses of engaging filmmaking. On the whole, though, the film is overly light on story, with only a handful of moments to sate the cosmic horror fan. But at 78 minutes, there are worse ways one could spend their time.
As always, thanks for reading!
—Alex Brannan (Twitter, Letterboxd, Facebook)