Here we have a story about someone’s life already being in the drain due to their own actions, but everything is about to turn around because of a destined encounter with a glory hole. If that doesn’t demand some attention, I’m not sure what would. Okay, there’s more than that going on here, as Glorious packs a lot into a tiny stall, but it’s a film that starts off grounded, a little odd, and will end with a whole picture — and a bowl nearly overflowing with cosmic horror.
This is a tale about Wes (Ryan Kwanten), who’s missing the woman of his life right now. Things must have ended poorly for him to wind up at a secluded rest stop, setting his keepsakes on fire and drinking himself into a stupor. One burned pair of pants later, the resulting gnarly hangover leads Wes to a bathroom with some interesting art, a dark hole, and a voice from the other side that knows a lot about the disheveled transient. This begins the conversations of Wes and Ghat (J.K. Simmons), as the former is locked in the restroom and realizes that the universe wants a favor — with little promise on the return.
Glorious is a rollercoaster ride trying to be contained in small tiled areas, constantly busting out of its prison to show small sparks of ambition. There is an incredible use of space with the sets — the bathroom and parking lot of the rest stop — making the size feel like it is constantly changing and going from warm to intimidating and puzzling as splashes of colors crash against the muted backdrops. Everything is happening here, right now, in this one spot, but much more is at stake.
The story and its pacing may feel a bit jerky at first, as it plays with the viewers while constantly giving out doses of better things. The film is right under an hour and twenty minutes, and the only spots in which it doesn’t feel brisk are the flashback scenes, which could have been reworked or sized down a tad. It’s easy to realize that there’s more going on than just what the premise says, and when the players become revealed more, they take over the simple and engaging tale.
One of the best things Glorious does is allow the audience time to explore the situation and figure a few elements out on their own. Not everything is spelled out and some of the questions can be left alone for a moment. Even if it feels frustrating at the time to jump around, rest assured that everything that absolutely needs to be addressed will be before the credits roll. I answered the big questions beforehand, but the reveals were still positive and made me want to see how much they were going to resolve. Even the title itself might take a few people who don’t read up on the movie a moment to discern, and small revelations like that help expand the concept. The ending itself leaves just enough up to interpretation that Glorious makes for a fun conversation piece amongst other Lovecraftian fans, while not expecting to be ranked as high art.
The movie is gross. I don’t mean in the sense of gore — though there is some of that — but in the sense of germs and fecal filth. We are talking about something focused on a bathroom encounter here. It never oversteps with this, but the constant mentioning of the muck and grime acts as its own level of realism that one can’t shake off. Glorious also took a moment to remind me how creepy I think teddy bears are. There is certainly a level of dark humor here that goes from being macabre to literal piss jokes, to simply understanding that your genitals are of no significance. One may ask if this is turning into a porno a couple of times, but I promise that everything builds to a proper head.
The other thing that makes Glorious good is its main actors. There aren’t many scenes where more than two or three people interact and the focus is always clear. It’s a challenge when one of those actors is a disembodied voice that doesn’t move from its stall, but J.K. Simmons nails that, and Ryan Kwanten — who most of us have loved since True Blood — is putting in extra work in these bathroom scenes to make sure everything feels as alive as possible. The pair play off each other well and the breaks between their stories feel less and less forced, as if they begin painting the same fluid picture toward the end.
Glorious may not be what everyone was expecting from the trailer and is going to be geared more toward those with a mind for Lovecraftian horror. Even for those who enjoy it, I can’t say it will warrant a ton of re-watches, but there is something special about the concept and how it presents itself so neatly. The smaller budget doesn’t hamper Glorious, but helps to focus the story. While its special effects may feel loud and hokey at times, it’s almost the perfect level of that when balanced against the rest of the scenes. No matter what someone thinks of the premise or how the film tries to turn its narrative, Glorious is anything but dull and deserves some cosmic attention.
As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 7.5 equates to “Good.” A successful piece of entertainment that is worth checking out, but it may not appeal to everyone.