Directed by Rebekah McKendry
Starring Ryan Kwanten, J.K. Simmons, Sylvia Grace Crim, Tordy Clark and André Lamar
After a breakup, Wes (Ryan Kwanten) 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 realises he is involved in a situation larger and more terrible than he could imagine.
Toilet stalls have been the locale for many a great horror movie set-piece – Halloween (2018), Scream, Scream 2 – but to dump (sorry) you in one for an entire film is a different proposition altogether, but it’s one that pays off in glorious fashion with Rebekah McKendry’s Lovecraftian trip to the loo.
Parking the viewer up at a rest stop with Ryan Kwanten’s dishevelled deadbeat, Glorious immediately starts leaving a breadcrumb trail of intriguing items in order for you to try and piece together some semblance of what has led this man to this point in his life. With clutter in his car and a few startlingly edited flashbacks that shake you from the idyllic silence of the woodland setting, it’d be an understatement to say that Wes has more than a few issues. An ill-fitting shirt, a seemingly short-fuse, the economical script quickly establishes him as someone who’d make the kind of decisions where he believes the answers lie at the bottom of a bottle. But what is the red box on the passenger seat for? And how about that strange goo innocuously dripping from a plant? All things to contemplate on a trip to the bathroom.
If you thought the world outside this rundown toilet block was strange, wait until Wes steps inside. It makes Renton’s trip to the Trainspotting toilet seem like a quick freshen up in The Dorchester Hotel. Dimly lit, with shards of light giving it the air of a prison cell, and dark corners in which the viewers imagination can dance, it’d already be a terrifying single-location setting, even without the arrival of J.K. Simmons’ voice emanating through a glory hole perfectly situated in what a appears to be the mouth of a graffitied Lovecraftian monster.
The thing is, this beast is not at all scary to begin with. In fact the scene in which they’re introducing themselves to one another is hilarious, with Wes having to pinch his tongue in order get the annunciation of this unseen deity’s name correct, finally settling on the abbreviated Ghat. However, as the seriousness of the situation increases, Simmons terrific voicework strikes a perfect balance between being this affable entity attempting to communicate with an increasingly unhinged Kwanten – “I could provide you with the names of all 12 contributors to the faecal matter currently on your shirt, neck and face” – and this intimidating presence losing its patience as the stakes get higher- “please accept that some things are beyond your comprehension”.
Never resting on the fact she has a doozy of a concept, or a winning double act in Kwanten and Simmons, McKendry’s direction is also pretty impressive, employing some dizzying camera techniques in order to add to the overall feeling of discombobulation throughout, and then there’s a rather lovely scene depicting Ghat’s backstory using animated pictures as they unfold on a journey across the different walls of the cubicle. Juxtapose that with a slow-motion operatic blood shower and some mirror shard body-horror, and you have a heady concoction of a calling card for the director.
Much like this review, at times the film is a little silly, and while it’s integral to the story, particularly the ending, Wes isn’t the most likeable character to invest in, which considering he’s on-screen with little more than a talking glory hole for company, could be a turn off for some.
Glorious is essentially Shutter Island in a shitter. A wonderfully weird cosmic horror escape room that’s as gruey and grimy as it is outlandishly funny.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film ★ ★ ★ / Movie ★ ★ ★ ★
Matt Rodgers – Follow me on Twitter