I have not seen Ryan Kwanten on screen for a hot minute, not since True Blood if memory serves. It was therefore a nice surprise to see his face gracing the splash page of the email with the screener for Glorious, a film I did not yet know that I absolutely had to see. Let’s take a look at that plot summary real quick:
Spiralling out after a bad breakup, Wes (Ryan Kwanten) ends up at a remote rest stop miles away from civilization. His situation worsens after he finds himself locked inside the bathroom with a mysterious figure (J.K. Simmons) speaking to him from an adjacent stall. As Wes tries to escape, he finds himself an unwilling player in a situation bigger and more terrible than he could possibly imagine…
And now a look at the artwork that came with the screener:
Yes, friends, that is indeed Kwanten in a bathroom stall holding a severed leg surrounded by tentacles, one of which seems to be coming through an eldritch glory hole. Those last two words I never imagined putting next to each other and now I need to know more. I’m an absolute sucker (not like that) for anything Lovecraft or cosmic horror and I have never before been sold on a film purely based on the poster art. I’m committed. Let’s go.
The film opens with a barely functioning alcoholic Wes (Kwanten) falling asleep at the wheel. He decides, after few near-accidents, to take a break at a roadside rest stop. We cannot help but feel sorry for this forlorn soul; clearly in pain and distress and going through what seems to be some serious breakup. He’s clearly Ramboing life; living out of his car and drifting from place to place, this roadside stop being no exception. What turns into a short stop becomes a soul-cleaning ritual as Wes clears the contents of his backseat through a ritualistic and very inebriated sacrificial fire, then passes out sans pants in a public place—not exactly a safe decision.
Morning light sends him rushing all discombobulated to the shitter to expel the contents of the previous night’s excessive indulgences. It is from this point that our movie truly begins. What comes next is a totally unique viewing experience that does—in fact—include creatures like the Elder Gods and the Great Old Ones. It’s pure Lovecraftian lore without directly naming deities. This is a very, very, tongue-in-cheek take on the mythos though but does not mock or detract from its seriousness in any way. The film is hilarious in the sense that it’s a Great Old One making deals with some forlorn mortal in a roadside shitter through a glory hole. It’s batshit nuts but wildly entertaining.
Glorious is smart in the way that it uses a simple location, sparse practical effects and a minuscule cast to create an essentially Lovecraftian horror film within a lavatory. While the premise may sound bizarre, the execution thereof is far-flung from silly or comical. It’s a genuinely clever, thought-provoking film that is acted, edited, and paced perfectly. It is literally non-stop fun from start to finish and the hype that I forced upon myself thankfully paid off or else I would have had to edit out those first few paragraphs.
Honestly, Glorious is a great film. It does not take itself too seriously and is a dark comedy without being laugh-out-loud funny. Its greatest strengths clearly lie in the performances by both Kwanten and J.K. Simmons, whose voice I kept trying (and failing) to place and went straight to IMDb after my viewing, only to kick myself for not figuring it out.
Like I often say, this is not going to be a film for all tastes. I’d even go so far as to say that it’s almost aimed at a very particular audience, myself included. If you’re already subscribed to Shudder, then this is one of the reasons that you pay for the service. If you aren’t, this and the great content that’s come out over the last few months would be a great reason to sign up. Thanks for reading and as always, stay sordid. Trailer below.
Site founder. Horror enthusiast. Metalhead.