[Fantasia Film Festival Capsule Review] 'Glorious' is Lovecraftian Weirdness that Lives Up to Its Name
With Glorious, which just had its world premiere at the Fantasia Film Festival, director Rebekah McKendry presents a profound tale found in the most unusual of places…
…Written by David Ian McKendry, Joshua Hull and Todd Rigney, Glorious sets its sights on Wes (Ryan Kwanten). When he stops at an ordinary rest stop, Wes finds anything but after discovering an ominous painting of a creature around a glory hole, as well as a mysterious voice (wonderfully voiced by J.K. Simmons) in the next stall claiming to be that creature.
Playing like a combination of We Need to Do Something with a touch of Don Coscarellian weirdness, Glorious is a mystifying horror comedy that’s as funny as it is downright strange. McKendry has a knack for telling unique stories that revel in the bizarre, and I’d say a Lovecraftian glory hole more than qualifies. You wouldn’t expect to find a spiritual story about self-discovery and what it means to be human in this filth-coated rest stop, but Glorious flushes expectations with all sorts of unexpected turns.
Leading us on this contained, existential adventure wrought with nightmares, Kwanten delivers an engaging one man performance that captivates despite having nothing to interact with besides a corporeal voice in the shadows. Speaking of, Simmons somehow steals the scene, projecting an unanticipated empathy that lures the audience into believing maybe this thing isn’t so bad. A matter of fact being with an inviting tone, the two play nicely off one another, the creature’s calm (occasionally fearsome) manner enhancing the comedy of Wes freaking the hell out.
“I’m not much of a bathroom talker”, says Wes. Too bad for him, because Glorious is a dialogue-heavy film with an intent to run its slimy claws through the characters to see what makes them tic. McKendry does a lot with a little, keeping the audience on their toes (or tentacles) by using every inch of the space to great effect. By no means is Glorious a bloodless endeavor either, with just the right amount of gore and creature effects to satisfy horror fans.
Glorious literally paints the walls red. It soaks the screen in a vat of goo. And the squishy, wet sound design is guaranteed to make you squirm. But it’s about more than discovering the slimiest creature you’ve ever encountered in a bathroom stall. Moving at a smooth, conversational pace, McKendry takes viewers on an oddly charming, occasionally psychedelic (and beautifully lit) trip that asks just what it takes to be a good human and whether or not we’re truly capable of that. Where some may grow restless with the wordy script, others will hang on every syllable. As is the case with any glory hole and whatever’s on the other side, the beauty or ugliness is all in the eye of the beholder.
Personally, I say Glorious rises to the occasion.
Glorious arrives on Shudder August 18th.
(Look for my full review closer to the film's release)
By Matt Konopka