Wes (Ryan Kwanten) is having a bad day, to say the least. He’s just broken up with his girlfriend, Brenda (Sylvia Grace Crim) and in his frustration, he’s gone on a long drive and gotten unreasonably drunk at a rest stop that’s out in the middle of nowhere. After spending a few hours at the rest stop getting wasted, Wes needs to use the bathroom in the rest stop and so he gets into the only unoccupied stall.
After a while he begins talking to the mysterious person in the locked stall beside him, only to discover that the stall doesn’t have a person in it but a cosmic demigod known as Ghatanothoa (J.K. Simmons) who has brought Wes to this rest stop in order to ask for a favour, and to torment him with occasional visions of his past.
Glorious promotes itself as a horror thriller but it’s more of a horror-comedy and a fairly funny one at that. Relying heavily on its lead Ryan Kwanten, the only person physically on screen for the bulk of the film’s runtime, the entire feature is a fascinating back and forth between a drunk man with a deep secret and an unseen cosmic entity who needs Wes’ help in order to protect the world from its father, who is clearly some giant Lovecraftian villain who can destroy the planet. It’s an absurd idea and the film embraces every aspect of it, from pushing the single location to its limit to referencing Lovecraft adaptations like Color Out Of Space to help enhance the tone of the piece.
With mostly one set and one on-screen actor, Glorious manages to find ways to keep the film as visually interesting as possible. It does, sadly, cheat the idea a little by having Wes hallucinate other locations every now and then but most of the time the film sticks to the grungy rest stop that slowly gets more and more disgusting the longer it goes on. Through a lot of inventive camera angles and some creative lighting tricks, it never really gets boring to look at and when there’s the occasional moment of horrific violence the film really pours on the style, letting the blood rain down as needed.
Since Glorious is largely just a conversation between our lead and the faceless being, it helps that the two actors are able to make it work. Ryan Kwanten’s manic energy really makes for some fun moments, particularly with him constantly trying to break out of the restroom. He’s constantly distracted by something and it plays well, never quite managing to take on the full severity of what’s happening and only getting more and more worked up the longer he can’t escape. He also has a large amount of pretty good physical comedy that borders on pure slapstick.
It’s no shock though that Glorious basically lives on the power of JK Simmons’ voice work, his performance is so measured and careful that it almost puts you at ease, until he has his occasional outbursts of anger with the force that JK Simmons is known to deliver almost effortlessly. Considering that he has to be the voice for a demigod who we never properly see, he manages to give it some genuine gravitas between the jovial banter.
Admittedly not every joke or scare works well, there are more than a few that kind of fall flat and the tone really doesn’t work at times, particularly during the climax when everything is meant to be getting serious with some heavy emotional backstory brought up and a big dramatic reveal happening seconds after a blowjob joke. It’s fine to have serious and comedic moments, almost every film had both of those and it’s not a bad thing for a film to change from light to serious, but it’s balancing those and being able to transition effectively between them where Glorious is less effective. Considering the intense material brought up during the final few moments, it could’ve used a lot more buildup and care to avoid the tonal whiplash that does happen.
For what is effectively a two-person show set in a single room, there is a fair amount of Glorious that’s enjoyable. It’s a fairly quick film, visually creative with some great performances. Just be ready for the tone to throw you a little, it might be visually trying to sell itself as a serious bit of cosmic horror but it’s mostly a joke with some harsh right turns thrown in that will feel quite jarring. If you can make it through though, it’s at least enjoyable enough. Maybe not glorious but certainly a good time.
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