Ryan Kwanten delivers a surgical performance alongside J.K. Simmons in Glorious. Gore and divinity are aplenty, complimented by well-executed story development that’s hog-tied together at the end. The humor throughout keeps things lighthearted while the stakes continue to rise.
Wes is going through a rough time after a breakup with his girlfriend Brenda (Sylvia Grace Crim). He drives off to a rest stop with a stuffed teddy bear, clothes, photos, and other memorabilia. He tries to call Brenda multiple times, leaving her voice messages, before his phone dies. He smashes it, reaches into the back of his car, and starts to drown himself in whiskey.
Drunk and alone, Wes finds a fire pit at the rest stop and starts to burn their past. He throws items in the fire, including photos, and eventually passes out drunk. He wakes up in the morning and rushes to the bathroom to vomit. Before leaving the stall, a God (Simmons) starts talking to him. Their conversation begins rather innocuously but progresses to stranger territory. Wes decides it’s time to leave but can’t get the door open. He’s trapped, and the only way out is to help the God return to its “ethereal form.”
Ryan Kwanten and J.K. Simmons in Glorious
Kwanten and Simmons exchange hilarious banter from start to finish. The premiere took place in a large theater in Montreal, Quebec at the Fantasia International Film Festival, and was filled with laughter multiple times. The humor is well-placed for moments of relief as Wes and the audience becomes more and more aware of the dire situation he faces. This doesn’t take away from the horror elements, though. Although funny, the God isn’t messing around.
We never do see Simmons as his entire role is voiced from inside the bathroom stall. Nonetheless, he and Kwanten manage to carry the film from almost entirely inside the bathroom, with only little help from minutes of screen time from the other cast members. Gary (André Lamar) appears for just a few minutes but certainly serves his purpose.
As the story progresses, we learn more about Wes, allowing us to feel just the right amount for him as he continues to live the ever-escalating experience. Flashbacks are used well to contextualize him and hook the viewers. Wes is drawn to his situation by fate, which could play into larger questions of existentialism, though they aren’t explored much beyond inference. Rather, viewers are given the context and some pretty sweet effects (and gore) to drive things home.
Elements of Glorious
The score of Glorious, by Joshua Hull, complements it well. There’s a scene where Kwanten’s character experiences something he didn’t quite take into possibilities at first and is showered in blood while sitting on a toilet. As he does so, director Rebekah McKendry slows things down, and the score plays softly in juxtaposition.
Greek mythology is drawn from as inspiration for elements in the film, including stall graffiti and characters. McKendry noted in her director’s statement that it also speaks to her adoration of Lovecraft and things that leave you thinking, “I can’t believe I just saw that.” I’m happy I did.
Glorious is written by Hull, David Ian McKendry, and Todd Rigney. It’s set to release on August 18, 2022, on Shudder. It’s a production of AMP International, Citizen Skull Productions, and Eyevox Entertainment.