Glorious - New Release Review
Director: Rebekah McKendry
Starring: Ryan Kwanten, J.K. Simmons, Sylvia Grace Crim, Tordy Clark
Written by: Joshua Hull, David Ian McKendry, Todd Rigney
Produced by: Morgan Peter Brown, Christian Armogida, Jason Scott Goldberg, Bob Portal, Inderpal Singh, Joe Wicker
Cinematography by: David Matthews
Original Score by: Jake Hull
After a breakup, Wes drinks himself into oblivion and hangs out at a rest stop. While there he becomes embroiled in a conversation with a mysterious figure from the next bathroom stall.
Imagine taking a shit in a public restroom and some guy in the next stall starts talking to you. Well that's basically the premise of Rebekah McKendry's latest feature film only instead of shitting, Wes (Ryan Kwanten) is throwing up last night's bad decisions and the guy in the next stall isn't actually a guy...it's a God.
Wes is really struggling in the aftermath of a tough breakup and his life has sorta went downhill. He lives in his car and he spends his nights getting drunk alone and feeling sorry for himself. After passing out drunk at a secluded rest stop (and randomly burning his trousers) he needs to throw up so he runs to the nearest restroom and empties his stomach into the toilet bowl. On his knees with tears dripping down his face, a voice in the next stall begins to converse with him. That voice belongs to the great J.K. Simmons.
After a few minutes of cordial back and forth between the two, Wes becomes increasingly hesitant to continue to engage with the stranger but that hesitation soon turns to intrigue when his new friend confesses to being a God. Things turn a bit sour when Wes attempts to catch a glimpse of his new pal through the glory hole in the partition and he ends up outside again, very confused and in the presence of his former girlfriend. A nightmarish reverie that soon comes to pass as the God summons him back into the restroom and warns him of his powers. Wes is now trapped in the restroom and he must do what the God asks of him. Fate has brought Wes here so he can provide a colossally important favour to the Universe.
'Glorious' is a fun and easy watch but even at only 78 minutes it does struggle a bit to fill out it's runtime. It's the kind of film that would work perfectly as part of a cosmic-horror anthology. Kwanten is like a young Chris Pratt though perhaps not quite as goofy and he really delivers the emotional performance. He's actually at his best when he's acting like a crazed psychopath who can't control his own thoughts.
Academy Award Winner J.K Simmons lends his evocative voice to the God in the next stall and as always when J.K speaks we all listen intently. His voice is immensely hypnotising and although this may seem like an odd part for a highly regarded Oscar Winner to choose to play, he pulls it off almost effortlessly. As soothing as his sultry tones are he can also make your butthole clench. The way he chooses to play the part is sort of reminiscent of Jigsaw for the 'Saw' franchise. His cadence is a bit like Tobin Bell's and I'm not sure if that was a conscious choice or not but it works.
The plot is fairly basic and as essentially a single location horror film it understandably doesn't quite offer up much diversity in the set pieces, however the dialogue is quirky and there's some glorious lighting and gooey body horror later on. Every deplorable corner of the nasty bathroom is utilised to great effect, making it look contaminated and grungy and bigger than it actually is.
There's an attempt to tell a bit of a redemption story here. As the film progresses we learn of Wes' toxic past and how it eventually affects his girlfriend, who the destructive glory hole God has threatened to erase the memory of. Wes is a man at odds with his own demons and although he is now at a point in his life where he has almost entirely given up he has been handed an opportunity to save the Universe. However he will not become a hero as the ancient God professes, "people remember heroes".
Despite the serious implications of a looming apocalypse, 'Glorious' manages to throw in a decent amount of humour to keep things grounded at times. Kwanten and Simmons gel well together and their banter is not only necessary, it's also welcomed.
- Gavin Logan
'Glorious' is available to stream on Shudder August 18th