We have a new Shudder Original to cover this month with the release of Glorious (2022). Does the film live up to the name? Find out in our review below how the sticky restroom-set horror comedy lands.
Glorious, directed by Rebekah McKendry and written by Josuha Hull, David Ian McKendry, and Todd Rigney, follows a man named Wes after a particularly nasty breakup. After a series of drunken mishaps, he arrives at a rest stop. Soon he finds himself trapped in a men’s room with a mysterious stranger engaging him in conversation through a gloryhole. However, the conversation has cosmic consequences.
The film’s stars are Ryan Kwanten, J.K. Simmons, Tordy Clark, Sylvia Grace Crim, and André Lamar.
What worked with Glorious
The film is an excellent example of the fun that can be hand with Shudder’s Originals and Exclusives. This film wouldn’t have set box offices ablaze, but as a streaming offering, it works pretty well. The overall story is a neat blend of comedy, mystery, and Lovecraftian cosmic horror. It is a movie that can pivot from disturbing to funny several times within the same scene. The film’s two leads, Wes (Ryan Kwanten) and Ghat (J.K. Simmons), who spend most of the movie talking, carry it. A very dialogue-heavy film, moments of gore and surreal cosmic imagery punctuate Glorious. However, it balances the shocks with the dialogue well.
One of the great things about J.K. Simmons is that the man could read a phonebook, which everyone would hail as a stunning performance. Through Simmons’ voice acting, Ghat appears simultaneously charming and intimidating. Almost like a stern but loving uncle trying to guide Wes to do something significant. The balance of power switches periodically, but not significantly enough to give Wes any real agency in the story. This can be good or bad, depending on your interpretation.
The other performances, brief though they are, are compelling. André Lamar gets the most to do as Gary, the unfortunate property manager of the rest stop. He delivers some fleeting fun moments. Sylvia Grace Crim, who plays Brenda, Wes’s object of affection, plays the haunting lover well enough. However, her role doesn’t offer much beyond that. She becomes the trope of the development of a traumatized male in horror. Tordy Clark’s mysterious Sharon has a brief scene full of mystery. Yet, it doesn’t seem overly important to the story. She just more or less shows that other people have been to the rest stop.
Visually, the movie does a great job of taking a rest-stop bathroom and giving it enough visual interest not to grow monotonous. David Matthews’ cinematography is admirable given the unusual scale of the film. Cramped when needed, imposingly open otherwise, and the strange, out-of-time paintings within the restroom give it a sense of the uncanny, especially where the cosmic gloryhole is concerned. The film has a lot of visual similarities to the Color Out of Space. Glorious is drenched in cosmic purple lighting from time to time.
The audio engineering was solid, giving Ghat an otherworldly quality, but the music didn’t stand out that much, generally leaning into weird, cosmic synth without doing anything notable.
What didn’t work with Glorious
The film’s structure does have some weak spots, and even at a meager runtime of 89 minutes (a rarity for movies these days), the film does feel longer than it needs to be. Glorious does drag as the single location features similar beats across different scenes; Ghat asks Wes to do something, Wes attempts to escape or refuses, and Wes gets punished. This loop makes up most of the film, and only with the introduction of property manager Gary for a single scene do we get a natural break in that loop until the end.
Glorious is a story that the team could have trimmed by 20 minutes. The film doesn’t quite overstay its welcome, but I often questioned when the story would progress after a certain point.
The film’s attempted shocking revelation about Wes does not really land. Hints to Wes’ true nature show up but end up too obscured or subtle for the “aha!” moment. Most of Wes’s character’s depth stems from Kwanten’s performance instead of the writing.
While I think the cinematography overall was excellent, I did find two scenes featuring a space-level zoom-out to be a bit ridiculous and unnecessary. In a film that could benefit more from the subtext, the transparent nature of showing ‘cosmic implications’ felt downright silly.
Final Thoughts on Glorious (2022)
Glorious hits that sweet spot of Shudder Originals and Exclusives where interesting, fun horror films are given a chance to shine on an enthusiast’s platform. It is one of those films where horror fans can appreciate them for what they are as opposed to struggling at the box office. Glorious is not the best of Shudder’s offerings, but it is a lot of fun with two solid performances and a nice pairing of gore and comedy wrapped up in a Lovecraftian shell.(3.5 / 5)