Wes has suffered through a breakup, and he finds himself at a remote rest stop. After a night of drunken frivolity, leading to his pants being unwittingly burned, he finds himself in the restroom, and while relieving himself, he is confronted by a mysterious voice from the adjacent bathroom stall. Things start to get weird and trippy for Wes when he realizes that the omniscient voice has a very strange, almost earthly name, knows a bit too much about Wes, and identifies himself as a very old god in need of Wes’ help.
I think the usage of the purple color palette as a denotation of cosmic horror came into prominence in Morgan Stanley’s fantastic 2019 horror film “Color Out of Space,” which again was a spin on the Lovecraftian Horror genre. Like the Lovecraftian horror genre, “Glorious” too follows a normal human being completely immersed in his troubles and dragged into the shenanigans of cosmic or supernatural beings well beyond the boundaries of control. The unique spin of “Glorious” is its limited scope in terms of locations, contrasting perfectly with its scope in ambition and writing. Wes is hallucinating or being thrown back when he tries to get a look at the elder God through the glory hole connecting the two bathroom stalls, or he manages to escape through the vents connecting the restroom to the outside world, only to fall back into the same stall, as time and space manage to fold as the movie progresses.
Like most Lovecraftian horror, the backstory isn’t the focal point, but philosophical ruminations and comparisons of the minuscule nature of humanity are. However, the origin story of the elder God and, as a consequence, the origin story of humanity as depicted by murals appearing on the bathroom walls in front of Wes is very much a subversion of the traditional origin of humanity as the mirror image of a benevolent anthropomorphized god. Having surprising similarities with Jason Aaron’s first arc of “Avengers,” “Glorious” posits humanity as something decidedly different, and even the origin of this tentacle-carrying eldritch God is very much shared with that of humans. The scope of this movie is exponential, which gets proven in the third act with the visual effects, but its use of violence, or at least the depiction, is cleverly done, using blocking and implied violence to show the bloody aftermath, with blood strewn throughout the walls and the other stalls, and the piece-de-resistance – a human heart torn out of the hapless maintenance man, unwittingly pulled into this debacle and killed by God; blood and viscera draped in an orange hue rain in the stall where Wes is hiding.
The unbelievable and sometimes mean-spirited story of the film is buoyed tremendously by the casting. Ryan Kwanten, as Wes, has to be the lone human presence and point of view character for the majority of the film’s runtime, and barring a couple of overdramatized moments, he carries the film ably. On the other hand, Simmons, as the elder God, is sublime. He is simultaneously able to voice an apologetic, genial, yet firm and terrifying tone at the drop of a dime, thus managing to create an impression and presence solely based on his voice acting. “Glorious” is also helped by Rebekah McKendry’s strong, confident, and assured direction, with a clear love and belief in the material and executing all of the stranger moments of the screenplay with aplomb, resulting in fantastic genre fare regardless of budget.
The only criticism that could be leveled at the film is the length, which is antithetical if you check the running time. At 79 mins long, this movie should be a zippy one, but it takes a while to get to the point, and there are moments in the middle where the conversations and the arguments between Wes and Ghat (the God) begin to feel redundant. Thankfully, the movie manages to get to its meat fairly quickly, but it never completely sheds the feeling of being a short film stretched a tad bit too long. The final reveal of Wes’ “true character” feels like an unnecessary add-on that doesn’t contribute much to the story beyond adding a standard moralistic consequence to a very supernatural and random occurrence.
Due to so much inundation of visual effects-heavy films or inundation of films in general, the ability of film to surprise us from both a story standpoint and a visual standpoint is in short supply. Thus, when a movie with a noticeably lower budget manages to do that and take you by surprise, completely on the strength of the story, you have to give it its due credit. Rebekah McKendry takes a single-location tale and crafts a supernatural and philosophical tale with extremely high stakes, and at no point does the verisimilitude of the movie manage to break. The unreal and the real manage to intermix specifically because of their conflicting nature, and the mean-spirited and almost gallows humor brings the movie to its searing, violent, slimy, and weird conclusion. Yes, it is hard to miss the wordplay of the title, juvenile humor completely in line with the tone of this film. “Glorious” is another addition to the revived Lovecraftian horror sub-genre, and I am all here for it.
“Glorious” is a 2022 Horror Film streaming on Shudder with subtitles.